Tram repair crews out to fix 'botched' roadworks

TRAM works are set to resume in the city centre, but only to make repairs to the crumbling road surface on Princes Street.

&#149 Workers are to return to Princes Street to fix the crumbling road surface

It will be the latest in a series of patch-up jobs since the tram tracks were laid at the end of 2009 and takes place at the same time as high-level mediation talks aimed at rescuing the project.

Contractors working on behalf of tram firm TIE returned to Princes Street last weekend and will continue their repairs this weekend.

TIE said diversions would be put in place for buses and taxis to allow for the closure of a single westbound lane from Frederick Street to Castle Street from Friday night through Saturday.

From Saturday evening until Sunday night, buses and taxis will be diverted along South St David Street and on to George Street to allow for work at The Mound.

It is understood the work is being carried out by Bonnyrigg-based Crummock, a sub-contractor of Bilfinger Berger. Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie said he hoped the mediation talks would lead to an improving relationship between TIE and its German contractor, leading to more works taking place in the city.

He said: "I suppose the population will sigh with relief that something is being done. Whether this work is due to the mediation is too early to say, but at least it looks like a step in the right direction.

"We will have to see the full (mediation] package in detail, but it can't be a bad thing that they're going back to make good the work." However, John Carson, a former head of maintenance at Network Rail and a critic of the tram project, said the work was purely designed to "stabilise" an area which had become a "diabolical mess."

He said: "They're trying to stabilise the road next to the rail. They have done this several times already because the work was basically botched.

"The continued patching is not going to work, at some point they're going to have to cut the whole thing ]the sealant] out and re-do it.

"At least it keeps them out of trouble - they've got very little else to be getting on with."

A spokesman for the tram project said: "The weekend remedial works are part of an ongoing programme to monitor, assess and repair the road surface next to the tracks on Princes Street when necessary.

"The primary consideration is always to carry out these works safely, effectively and with minimal impact to traffic during the peak weekend periods."

Meanwhile, the mediation talks are continuing at the five-star Mar Hall hotel near Glasgow and are expected to take up to two weeks.