'˜Radical thinking' on bypass is needed to help Midlothian motorists

Colin Beattie MSP has backed calls to improve the Edinburgh City Bypass and provide commuters with an easier journey to and from work.
Colin Beattie MSP at Sheriffhall roundabout.Colin Beattie MSP at Sheriffhall roundabout.
Colin Beattie MSP at Sheriffhall roundabout.

During a debate in the Scottish Parliament, he told MSPs that his constituents faced queues of traffic on main roads heading to the bypass, creating congestion and air pollution.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf pledged to look at the deployment of “smart technology” on the road to allay growing concerns and to press on with a long-awaited flyover at the Sheriffhall bottleneck.

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But he warned that a lengthy public inquiry may be needed, which could delay the development for years.

The government cannot short-cut statutory obligations in building the Sheriffhall flyover, without the risk of a legal challenge.

Mr Yousaf said: “But I can give an absolute assurance that we will do everything we can in our power to deliver this scheme as quickly as we possibly can.

“This is an infrastructure project of national importance.”

Commenting after the debate, Mr Beattie said: “Edinburgh City Bypass is a well-used trunk road in our area.

“You can go along the road at any time of the day and there are queues of traffic, mainly at the Sheriffhall roundabout.

“It is important that when the government is looking at all the possible changes required to the bypass all options are considered.

“The main priority should be that it is cost-efficient and done as soon as possible.

“It may be that it is more economic to extend a tram or light rail system out to the main population centres such as Dalkeith, Bonnyrigg and Musselburgh than to take on the eye-watering cost of enlarging the A720.

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“This would also benefit the environment and be much faster than using road transport.

“Clearly, more radical thinking needs to be done on creating a sustainable solution.

“I am not convinced that simply replicating a system which moves traffic speedily and efficiently into new choke points is the answer.”