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The A720 City Bypass at Swanston © Darrin Antrobus (CC)

Lack of Urgency to Improve Bypass Criticised

A Lothian list MSP has expressed his concerns that the Scottish Government has no urgency to improve the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass.

Having submitted parliamentary questions to Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, last month, Scottish Conservative and Unionist MSP Miles Briggs is seeking immediate answers as to what firm plans, if any, the government has to increase capacity on the A720.

Miles has spoken out after the SNP minister failed to give concrete answers to his questions, with Mr Yousaf instead saying that the government “remains committed to undertaking improvements on the A720, including at Sheriffhall”. No details were provided about the timetable for the grade separation of the Sheriffhall roundabout nor were any other initiatives laid out to combat congestion on the trunk route.

Speaking Friday Miles Briggs MSP said:

Constituents and businesses in Edinburgh and Lothian will be frustrated at what seems to be a complete lack of urgency from the Scottish Government in terms of improving the city by-pass. It is especially concerning that it appears unable to offer any firm timetable for the much-needed Sheriffhall junction upgrade.

As the region’s population grows, the Scottish Government should be undertaking immediate and detailed work to prepare this key arterial route for the extra traffic it can expect to carry in future. Already commuters and other drivers face being stuck in queues of traffic on the by-pass at peak times and people are anxious that these problems will increase as usage grows.

I will be tabling further questions on this subject and will continue to press the Scottish Government to address the concerns of constituents and businesses in my region.

The MSP has tabled two new questions pressuring the Transport Minister to reveal if there are any plans to improve the A720 other than the Sheriffhall project. In addition to this Miles has asked what assessment has been made of the City Bypass’ capacity in light of the planned housing growth in the region. Humza Yousaf should respond by October 6.

The Penicuik Cuckoo revealed earlier this year how the Scottish Government had been made aware of capacity issues on the A720 in 2009. A document produced as part of shelved plans to introduce an Orbital Bus route, states that the route was operating above 100% capacity on all stretches and at every junction during peak hours. It concludes that, without intervention, the problems would only worsen in the coming years. It is believed the road could now be at or over 130% capacity.

Transport Scotland stated in 2008 that they may consider all lane running, or the use of the hard shoulder as a third lane, on the City Bypass. However, despite having been deemed a strategic project, there has been no urgency to act. Plans to convert the ailing Sheriffhall roundabout into a flyover or underpass have only just reached design selection stage, even though planning started in 2013.

What do you think? Let us know your view below or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. You can also the Cuckoo’s petition to upgrade the route here.