The latest draft for the next section of Leith Walk has been published.
The plans, which cover the next section of Leith Walk, running between Pilrig Street and MacDonald Road, supersede an earlier blueprint that was released in April.
The changes have largely worsened the plan for cyclists.
In particular, provision for cyclists at both major junctions seems less well specified in the new plan than the old.
Safety concerns have been raised about the latest proposals for the Pilrig Street junction. In the new plans, the segregated section for northbound cyclists ends at Middlefield.
Cyclists are then forced out into a soon-to-be peak-only bus lane, and must cross a lane for traffic turning left into Pilrig Street to continue north down Leith Walk.
Those wishing to turn left in Pilrig Street are afforded little protection in comparison to the earlier design either.
Similarly, the segregated cycle lane now starts on the “wrong” side of the MacDonald Road junction for northbound cyclists too. As the segregated part now starts on the north side of the junction, there is concern that it won’t join up properly with any further segregated route from Picardy Place.
It is unclear whether the cycle facilities at these junctions have been downgraded to save cash, or for another reason, although the Leith Walk project is known to be over-budget.
Officials are said to be keen to move to a formal Traffic Regulation Order for the next section of works quickly but we’re not sure if there’s a clear date set for when the design will be finalised.
Therefore, if you missed last weeks consultation meeting, and would nevertheless like to comment on the latest design proposals we’d suggest you contact the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership staff with your views as soon as you can.
Greener Leith is likely to send a further comment and is consulting with others. If you see something in the proposals that you’d like changed, then please do let us know, as well as the Neighbourhood Partnership.
You can download the latest plans from here.
Update 15/06/2015: After this post was published, Transport Convenor Cllr Hinds has said on Twitter that the Leith Walk budget is not overspent. She’s been asked to clarify how the “projected funding shortfall” identified in the May Finances and Resources Committee report linked to above has been resolved, but she hasn’t got back on that yet. This post will be updated again if she does.
— Lesley Hinds (@LAHinds) June 14, 2015
Update 21/6/2015: Lesley Hinds sent this additional explanation of the Leith Walk funding situation: “None of the professional fees by Council staff are being charged to the project.
“In a normal construction project that the Council would progress, the non-construction costs including design, project management would often be around the 10 – 15% of the overall budget cost.
“In this case, given the scale of the project, it also includes the fact that we have to do vehicle counts / traffic modelling / pay for public hearings etc, and the design process is very involved, so these are also non construction costs. You might remember this request came from the Leith Programme Working Group.”
“Because early in the life of the Programme, the Council gave a commitment that it would spend all of the £5.5M allocated by CEC to the Leith Programme on actual construction costs, officers have been careful and diligent – flagging up that the non-construction costs are therefore an additional pressure which will be met internally.
“There is also scope to meet some (but definitely not all) of these pressures through unused contingency costs, and a bit of the external funding which can allow for some design costs.
“It does not mean that the Leith Programme is overspent.”