Page last updated at 13:24 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

Tram work to close Princes Street

Tram in Princes Street (artist impression)
Trams are due to be running in Edinburgh in 2011

A proposal to close Edinburgh's Princes Street to traffic for most of next year while tram lines are laid is to go before councillors next week.

A report published on Thursday contains plans to shut the thoroughfare from mid-February until the end of November, with a break for the festival.

There was gridlock in October when Princes Street was closed to traffic in both directions.

Officials said traffic flow would be under "constant measurement" this time.

Contingency plans were in place for an emergency, they added.

Edinburgh councillors will vote on the proposals next Thursday.

It is proposed that preparation work will start on Princes Street on 5 January without the need to close the street.

There are plans to close The Mound from mid-January until the end of November, with the Princes Street closure beginning in February.

We want to complete the work as quickly as possible, which is also the major wish from shops and businesses
Jenny Dawe
Edinburgh City Council

Wide-ranging "communications activities" are planned to ensure that the travelling public are aware of the traffic diversions.

Jenny Dawe, Edinburgh City Council's leader, said: "The tram track laying is a major step for the project, and I very much welcome the support we have had from the city's business community, retailers and residents.

"We want to complete the work as quickly as possible, which is also the major wish from shops and businesses.

"We have applied more rigour and scrutiny than ever before to the traffic diversions to ensure that buses, cars, pedestrians and other traffic can access the city as quickly as possible."

Traffic diversions

David Mackay, chairman of tram developer Tie, said: "This programme of work will bring the project to life, with Edinburgh residents, visitors and tourists seeing the scheme take shape in front of them.

"We understand the impact on Scotland's most famous street so the construction will proceed as quickly as possible and will not take place during the summer and winter festivals.

"The work will of course mean that temporary traffic diversions will be put in place. This has been meticulously planned by experts from CEC, Tie, Lothian Buses and Lothian and Borders Police.

"We have also considered the views and needs of retailers and businesses into our planning and we are confident that this plan is the best solution for all.

Graham Birse, deputy chief executive of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: "Investment in our city's infrastructure is vital so that Edinburgh can provide the transport and facilities that businesses need.

"This helps us attract new jobs and opportunities, which is ever more important in a recession and a competitive global market place.

"We want trams to be delivered as quickly as possible, so that our city centre becomes a truly world-class shopping and visitor destination."

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