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MSP Miles Briggs © Image Supplied

MSP Questions Bypass Capacity Problems

A Lothian MSP has written to Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, to highlight constituents’ concerns over increasing delays on the Edinburgh City Bypass.

Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP for the Lothian Region, has tabled two parliamentary questions asking for the Scottish Government to set forth any plans they have to combat congestion on the A720 City Bypass. This is following contact from businesses and constituents who are becoming increasingly frustrated at the delays. Mr Briggs has also asked Humza Yousaf, Transport Minister for the SNP administration, to clarify what work, if any, the government has done to assess levels of traffic on the trunk route.

Speaking on Friday, Miles said:

Transport Scotland acknowledged that there were immediate capacity problems on the City Bypass 8 years ago but comprehensive plans to address these issues have simply not been taken forward by the Scottish Government.

Constituents are frustrated at being stuck in queues of traffic on the Bypass at peak times. With the number of new homes planned for this area in the years ahead and the associated population growth and increase in vehicles, the Scottish Government needs to take decisive action, including looking at the option of upgrading the hard shoulder on sections of the road to be used as a third lane during peak times.

Another priority must be accelerating the plans which are in place to upgrade the Sheriffhall roundabout and improve that particular bottleneck.

Increased capacity on the City Bypass is vital for both residents and for the area’s economic development.

Earlier this year, the Cuckoo launched a petition calling on the Scottish Government to upgrade the A720 to Smart Motorway standards, allowing a hard shoulder to be used for running traffic when necessary. This came after a report from 2009 was unearthed showing that the majority of the City Bypass was critically over capacity and would continue to deteriorate in the coming years. It is believed that the route may now be running at or over 130% capacity in places.

Transport Scotland has previously stated that they consider the A720 to be a candidate for an Active Management System which would utilise the hard shoulder at peak times to increase capacity and regulate traffic flow. However, in recent years there has been no sign of these plans materialising.

Miles Briggs has also submitted a question about the progress of proposals to alter the congestion plagued Sheriffhall Roundabout. Design work began in 2013 to identify how the roundabout could be removed, allowing the A720 to continue unimpeded, but three years later, the government is yet to propose their chosen layout for the junction. The six designs so far have been published on the Transport Scotland website.

Thomas Scott, Editor of The Penicuik Cuckoo, and petitioner said:

To date over 1300 people have signed our petition calling for the Scottish Government to take action to combat increasing congestion problems on the A720.

Every day, we hear how thousands of new homes will be built in the region in the coming decade but what we really need to see before this growth is an overhaul of our infrastructure.

The City Bypass cannot be left to worsen. Eight years of dithering has caused misery for commuters and stagnated our local economy. We need a bypass not just fit for this century but fit for the centuries to come.

I welcome Miles’ intervention and encourage everyone who uses the route, or routes around it, to send a clear message to the government by signing our petition.

The petition titled “Scottish Government: Make the Edinburgh City Bypass (A720) Fit for the 21st Century” can be found here.

What do you think? let us know your views below or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. Find the campaign to upgrade the A720 on twitter @goM720.