Drivers see red as tractor crash wipes out junction traffic lights

IT was completed six months late and with a price tag that could end up around £2 million over budget, but motorists are today facing yet more disruption at one of the city's most notorious junctions – because of a tractor.

Work to replace the Seafield roundabout in Portobello was finally finished in April, but new traffic lights are now out of action after an accident involving the tractor on Tuesday night.

The council said temporary traffic measures would have to be brought in for up to a week until a new signal control box could be found to replace the one damaged in the crash.

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There were long tailbacks following the accident in which the tractor spun out of control before crashing into the signal box.

The vehicle narrowly missed pedestrians waiting to cross King's Road before landing on its side on top of the junction boxes.

Local councillor Ewan Aitken said: "Once again they have failed miserably to have a Plan B. Accidents happen and they should have been prepared for that.

"They should have had this equipment on stand-by. There have already been problems with the lights before. I hope this wasn't a way of keeping down the overspend."

Originally expected to cost 1.7m, the overhaul of the Seafield roundabout was dogged by delays since work began back in July last year.

Figures obtained by the Evening News earlier this year estimate the current cost of the project to replace the roundabout with traffic lights to be nearer 2.5m, but council sources have said the final bill could soar by as much as 2m over budget.

Last month a power failure caused all the traffic lights to go out at the newly completed junction. More than 1,000 homes were also hit.

Mansour Marouf, who runs a driving school in Leith, was one of those caught up in yesterday's disruption.

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He said: "They have got three police traffic wardens directing the traffic, but it's not running like it should. What kind of system packs in after the very first accident?"

The council said temporary traffic lights would now be in operation, with police traffic wardens set to be called in at peak times.

Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the city's transport convener, said: "I would like to assure motorists that all action is being taken to keep traffic flowing smoothly and replace the signal control cabinet as soon as possible."

A police spokesman said no charges had been made in connection with Tuesday's accident, but said inquiries were continuing.