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Trams to Newhaven construction work to cease in light of coronavirus guidance

Coronavirus: City of Edinburgh responds to First Minister's call that building sites close

Mark Moran
26 March 2020
Trams to Newhaven concept art
Trams to Newhaven concept art

Construction on Edinburgh’s Trams to Newhaven project will stop this week to protect the safety of workers and residents during the current coronavirus outbreak.

Edinburgh City Council’s decision to instruct contractors Morrison Utility Services (MUS) and Sacyr Farrans Neopul (SFN) to cease site works follows advice from Scotland’s First Minister that all construction sites should close, unless the project being delivered is essential.

SFN and MUS will make sites on Leith Walk, Constitution Street, Lindsay Road and Ocean Drive safe by the end of the week before shutting down. This time is required given the complex nature of the project. Following on from shutdown there will be contractors on site as necessary for safety and security checks, in line with current social distancing guidance.

Council leader Adam McVey said: “The health and wellbeing of workers delivering key infrastructure schemes like Trams to Newhaven – and those who live nearby – is of utmost importance to us, which is why we've been working with contractors, to halt work since the Scottish Government guidance was issued.

“Of course, this will impact on the wider project, but nothing is more important than the public’s safety. We will, of course, be working with contractors to mitigate the impact of these necessary actions and carefully planning our strategy for returning to the site once restrictions are lifted.”

Work will continue off-site, again operating to strict social distancing guidelines, including design, planning and scheduling, as well as drawing up a remobilisation strategy for returning to the site once restrictions are lifted.

The project team will also be closely liaising with MUS and SFN to look at ways of mitigating the impact of work stopping on the wider project.

SFN Project Director Alejandro Mendoza said: “We fully back the decision and guidance from the Government this week to shut down construction sites during this period of great uncertainty. These are extremely challenging and concerning times for all and we will do what is necessary for our staff and the public to help stop the spread of this virus.”

MUS Project Director Mike Thomson added: “The health of our staff, and the residents and businesses in the local community, is our number one priority so we understand and support the decision to temporarily stop work. We will be working hard over the next few days to make the site safe and secure for the shut down period.”

While traffic management due to be installed on Leith Walk on 28 March will be postponed, existing traffic management on Constitution Street, Lindsay Road and Ocean Drive will remain. Safety and security checks following shutdown will include, but will not be limited to, fenced-off worksites, traffic management signage, diversion routes, logistics hubs and the main compound and satellite offices. This will be in line with current social distancing guidance.
Logistics hubs on Mitchell Street will also close. The project’s contact centre will remain operational for any queries.

Other major infrastructure schemes being carried out by the council across Edinburgh are currently under urgent review in light of UK and Scottish Government guidance, with updates to follow.

Several service changes have been implemented by the council this week to help limit the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in Edinburgh. These include the suspension of pay & display parking charges, closing play parks and games areas and establishing Local Critical Resilience Centres.

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