A KEY city route which has been closed for almost a year because of tram works has now been re-opened to traffic.
Russell Road was shut in September last year to allow the construction of a bridge to carry the new tram line from the airport to the city centre.
Eleven months later, the work has reached a stage where the road can be opened up to motorists once more, restoring a vital part of the Capital’s road network.
Council transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “Russell Road is a key route connecting Roseburn and Murrayfield to Gorgie and Dalry, so it will make a noticeable difference to traffic flow having it open again.
“As always, we are extremely grateful to the residents of the surrounding area for their patience and understanding while these essential tram works were carried out.”
The road had to be shut for such a long period because the tram line runs so close to the nearby railway line. The existing railway embankment had to be reinforced while excavation work was carried out for the trams. And major work on constructing the tram bridge could only be carried out during the night at weekends when no trains were running and Network Rail handed over the line to the tram contractors.
The bridge required “in situ” construction, with scaffold support erected underneath to secure the concrete deck while it was cast. Space was also needed to construct the bridge supports.
Murrayfield councillor Jeremy Balfour said the prolonged closure had been a serious inconvenience for people travelling around the city.
He said: “It has been very disruptive and made a massive difference for people being able to get to the south of the city.
“It has caused quite major inconvenience, particularly for the people of Murrayfield and Roseburn, but also anyone coming over from Blackhall and Davidson’s Mains.
“And with the other tram works at Murrayfield stadium and Balgreen, it has limited access and been a big concern.
“It will be a big relief to have the road open again because it will bring back a well-used access route to Gorgie and across to the south of the city.”
Stephen Holland, secretary of the Roseburn Maltings residents’ committee and treasurer of Murrayfield Community Council, said the closure meant local people had to find different routes but they had adapted quite easily.
He added that disturbance from noise and night-time working had not been as bad as they had feared.
He said: “Though the residents of Roseburn Maltings have enjoyed the lack of traffic on neighbouring Russell Road since it closed, we welcome, in common with residents of the wider Roseburn and Murrayfield areas, the reopening of this route to the south-west of the city.”
But Mr Holland said he did not think many people from his area would use the trams once they were up and running because the nearest stop was at Murrayfield stadium. “I can’t see many people walking to the stadium stop when we have such a good bus service closer.”
The council has warned that although Russell Road has reopened, temporary traffic controls may be needed in future as the works are completed.