A public consultation, seeking views on the construction of a proposed £165M, 4.6km long extension of Edinburgh’s tram service, will open next week.
The new service would extend the current 14km long Edinburgh tram route to Newhaven north of the city centre. The existing route runs from York Place in the city centre to Edinburgh Airport to the west of the city.
The council said while most people in the area were in favour of a new tram, there were concerns over the length and potential disruption caused by the construction of the new service.
The consultation will seek views on the traffic management and phasing of the proposed works, including proposals for restricting traffic along two major roads.
Construction of the new tram service is due to take three years followed by approximately four months of testing and commissioning on new line. Closures on the major roads are set to be in place for 18 months during construction.
The pre-qualification process for contractors is currently underway and it is anticipated that the tender process will start in April.
Plans for the permanent design of the street along the route, including a dedicated public transport-only lane on Leith Walk during morning and evening rush hour will also come under scrutiny.
Transport convener councillor Lesley Macinnes said after the business case had been approved in September last year, the council had pledged to dedicate 2018 to consulting with those most affected by the works.
“We’ve been working very closely with the local community and our partners ever since to model traffic management plans and look at options for supporting businesses as much as possible if the project goes ahead,” said Macinnes. “These plans have been developed taking on board lessons learned from the first phase of tramworks and the current traffic management arrangements in place around Leith Street.
“This consultation gives people the chance to help shape how we manage things if and when work gets under way.”
At the same time as the business case for the new line was approved, an inquiry was launched into the delayed opening and significantly increased cost of the existing line. The line opened three years late in 2014 and the project was beset with disputes. Despite the scope of works for the line being cut, the cost rose from £454M to £776M and spent nearly all of its contingency fund by 2013.
The six week consultation, starting on 19 March, is the first stage of the consultation process that is to continue through to the end of 2018.
Approval for the tram service is expected to be made by Edinburgh Council at the end of the year.