SHANDWICK Place is set to reopen to traffic next month after more than 18 months of tram works.
Haymarket, Shandwick Place and West Maitland Street are expected to finally re-open to traffic in October in a move that business chiefs have welcomed as a shot in the arm for hard-pressed retailers.
It comes as city finance leader Cllr Alasdair Rankin suggested all testing is likely to be completed by Christmas with trams running in the Capital “early in the New Year”.
The senior councillor told reporters yesterday: “My understanding at the moment is the system will be complete and the testing will be done up to the Christmas period and from a passenger point of view it will go live early in the New Year.”
However, transport leader Cllr Lesley Hinds immediately poured cold water on the suggestion and sources within the City Chambers said that there was no chance of tram services hitting the streets in January.
An official announcement of the tram launch date is expected to be made on Wednesday next week.
Transport convenor Cllr Lesley Hinds, said in a statement: “We’ll provide an update on project time frames next week – Cllr Rankin’s comments do not reflect the current situation.”
Shandwick Place reopening follows hot on the heels of work coming to an end at York Place. However, of the Shandwick Place breakthrough, Jim Gow, landlord of Au Bar, said he will “believe it when it happens” after seeing months of setbacks.
“It’s better late than never but there have been so many suggested dates and they’ve always been put back,” he said.
“I think all the traders here will be of the same opinion.
“It is frustrating when it is tantalisingly close.
“The tram works almost killed us.
“We have had one of our worst August’s ever and are just bobbing along.
“Hopefully things will pick up when Shandwick Place reopens.”
Gordon Henderson, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said it was good news for businesses on Shandwick Place and all of its surrounding streets, while Andy Neal, chairman of Essential Edinburgh, said that the reopening was akin to the “last piece of the jigsaw being complete”.
He said: “It will be great news for the West End businesses that have had a real struggle over the last few years.”
He added: “Hopefully, this will result in an upturn for them and they will start to see the benefits of trams, rather than the downside of its construction.”