Health and safety fears aired over traffic diversions

TRAFFIC diversions around York Place have been blasted by residents over fears that extra traffic is leading to health and safety risks.

Families in Albany Street, one of the areas worst affected by diversions put in place to allow for work on the tram project, have said the once peaceful street has been turned into “Edinburgh’s new motorway”.

They have raised concerns that the rising traffic levels have caused safety concerns for children, while fumes from the cars and lorries using the route are also sparking health fears.

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Despite the concerns, council bosses said the York Place traffic management works were “running very smoothly”.

Alex Watts, who has lived with his family in Albany Street for nine years, has been stunned by the council’s lack of understanding on the matter as an extra 1000 cars an hour drive past his door.

He said: “Motorways run smoothly, but I wouldn’t want to go and live next to one. I have two daughters, aged two and five, and I do not feel the street is at all safe with this level of traffic. One of my daughter’s bedrooms is to the front of the property and she is waking up at 5am as a result of the increased traffic noise.

“We are used to parking and stopping outside our houses to unload shopping or children – this is now becoming a highly dangerous exercise.”

Fellow Albany Street resident Richard Evans said: “We also have two small children of six and three years old. My wife and I both suffer from asthma and have already noticed a worsening of our symptoms during the first week.”

City centre councillor Joanna Mowat has been contacted by a host of irate residents.

She said: “Local residents seem to have been a complete afterthought in all this – that is, if they were ever even a thought.

“When the West End diversions were put in place, people were warned to expect five to ten-minute delays. With these works it’s now even faster for cars to get across town along once quiet residential streets. The balance has been set in favour of motorists at the expense of homeowners and local businesses.”

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The closure of York Place has seen cars, taxis and HGVs rerouted via Broughton Street, Albany Street and Abercromby Place. The diversions will remain in place for the next 16 months.

A council spokesman said: “The current temporary traffic management around York Place has been running very smoothly. We are constantly measuring the volume and speed of traffic and have found that there have been no delays as a result of the diversions.

“We will try to ensure that any disruption is kept to an absolute minimum.

“These works form a major phase of the overall programme and show further, significant progress is being made on the project.”