Busy roundabout to be replaced causing further disruption

MOTORISTS are set for even more roadworks misery when a £1.7 million project to revamp one of the city's busiest roundabouts gets under way.

Work to replace the roundabout which links Seafield Road, Portobello Road and King's Road with traffic lights is expected to begin in May.

The 20-week project will take place at the same time as motorists face diversions and road closures in Leith and the West End as part of the tram project.

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Last year, a similar project to replace the Milton Link roundabout with traffic lights caused delays of more than 30 minutes on journeys for commuters.

Today, transport chiefs insisted the disruption would be worthwhile as the new junction would be safer and help cut congestion.

As part of the revamp, new pedestrian crossings and traffic islands will be built, including one on Portobello High Street.

Bus lanes will be put in on the approaches to the new junction, and a new priority system will allow buses to bypass queues during busy periods.

Portobello councillor Maureen Child, said: "Long-term, this is a good move. I think the Milton Link has been proven to work well and I know Lothian Buses are delighted with the improvements in bus times.

"There is no getting away from the fact this will cause a huge amount of disruption given how much traffic passes through Seafield roundabout.

"However, I think the council has learned a lot of lessons from the experiences of building the new Milton Link and hopefully they will make this as pain-free as possible."

Statistics released by the council shows there have been 18 accidents causing injury at the Seafield roundabout over the last four years, involving 20 casualties.

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Councillor Phil Wheeler, the city's transport leader, said: "Research has shown that traffic-signal controlled junctions have a better safety record than roundabouts where pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable.

"This project should help in the council's commitment to tackling congestion and improving the flow of traffic.

"Also, the fact that buses will be given priority during peak times will encourage more people to use this excellent method of public transport."

The project's 1.7m price tag is 300,000 more than was first envisaged for the work.

The Milton Link roundabout was last year replaced with sets of traffic lights and bus lanes were set up in both directions along Milton Road, as well as a "traffic management system" giving priority to inbound drivers in the morning and outbound drivers in the evening.

Around 24,000 vehicles a day use the junction and the construction period resulted in major delays across the east of the city.

Iain Coupar, marketing director for Lothian Buses, said: "Bus priority measures in Edinburgh have always been successful.

"They definitely encourage more people to travel by public transport, so we welcome the fact that the council are looking to introduce more, which is good news for bus passengers and bus operators."