Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative MSP for Lothian, is questioning whether the Scottish Government is committed to prioritising the long-promised Sheriffall junction improvements and broader action to reduce congestion on the Edinburgh City Bypass. Miles Briggs spoke out today after receiving written Parliamentary answers from Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, which confirm it will be 2019 before draft orders for the preferred option at Sheriffhall are published, with no indication of a construction timetable. In terms of action to reduce congestion along the by-pass, the Minister says that “further consideration to the rationale to reduce congestion” and “ further consideration of the rationale to improve traffic flow” will take place.
Speaking today Miles, who since his election in 2016 has consistently pressed the SNP government to invest in the city bypass and recognise the strategic importance of this trunk road to the whole of Lothian, said:
“ Lothian commuters and businesses, who face daily delays on the city bypass at peak times, will be frustrated and indeed angry that the Transport Minister appears to be suggesting that the rationale to reduce congestion on this key road hasn’t been established. Is he really suggesting that there is a case for not reducing congestion on the city bypass?
“ Studies have shown that four of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the whole of the UK occur on the by-pass and that congestion is costing the region’s economy millions and millions of pounds each year. In addition, the Scottish Government has admitted that an extra 10,000 vehicles per day will be using the City bypass by 2022 compared to the 2014 figure.
“ Last November Humza Yousaf told me ‘Transport Scotland is continuing with work to identify how best to mitigate congestion on the A720’. Now he is saying further consideration to the rationale to reduce congestion will be considered. He seems to be backtracking and Lothian drivers will be shocked by this. If the Minister needs to be convinced of the rationale to reduce congestion on the road, perhaps he should try to use it each day at peak times and face being stuck in lengthy queues and traffic jams like so many of my constituents?
“ In terms of the Sheriffhall roundabout, the need to improve this junction has been patently obvious for years now. However we are facing another long wait just to have the draft orders for the preferred option published. The SNP government has dragged its heels on this key transport priority, and it appears that it's doing the same for the whole city bypass.
“ I will continue to press Ministers to recognise the critical importance of improving the city bypass for the Lothian region's economy and to make this a national transport priority.”