Warnings Princes St U-turn will put city on road to ruin

PLANS to overturn the car ban on Princes Street have been greeted with mixed reactions from residents and city 

Council leaders are considering reopening the main thoroughfare to general traffic in an effort to alleviate congestion problems on once peaceful New Town streets.

Albany Street residents, who following the closure of York Place due to tram works have witnessed an extra 1000 cars an hour pass their door, warmly welcomed the news that a rethink was on the cards.

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James Dawson, who has lived on the road for eight years, said: “It seems common sense might in fact prevail at last. Traffic on the street has gone through the roof as a result of this diversion. It’s non-stop, on what were once pretty quiet city streets.

“This tram project has really become a saga but at least the council now seem to be listening to locals.”

Fellow resident, Alex Watts, said: “All residents would welcome this if traffic was instead sent down Princes Street. We’ve barely managed a week so there’s no way we could manage the 16 months they had hoped.”

However, Edinburgh Taxi Association chair Raymond Davidson urged caution before switching traffic back on to Princes Street.

He said: “I’m not so sure it would make it any easier allowing traffic along Princes Street, it could all result in gridlock. The problem in Edinburgh is that the city is so wee that there are no exit roads on to, say, a motorway. It’s very easy to clog the city up.

“I would urge caution before deciding on anything, especially given that we are heading into a busy season with a lot of extra visitors in the city.”

Green Lothians MSP Alison Johnstone also warned against any hasty decisions on the issue and said: “I completely understand the complaints of those living in residential areas affected by the diversions and it is right for the council to look at all the options. But if traffic were allowed on to Princes Street I think many people would want an assurance that it was a temporary measure and not a permanent one.

“Edinburgh city centre’s traffic jams won’t be solved by constant rearranging of road systems – we need to reduce the amount of traffic in the first place. Residential streets and world-famous Princes Street should be pleasant, safe environments and the only way we’ll achieve that is by prioritising walking, cycling and public transport over private vehicles.”

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Scottish Conservative Lothians MSP, Gavin Brown, likewise called for better public consultation on the issue.

He said: “It is critical that the council listens to residents, road users and businesses as carefully as possible. It is vital that we have fluent traffic flow across the city at all times and anything that can be done to reduce congestions, and stop road users taking unnecessary diversions, should be looked at.”