Make the Edinburgh City Bypass (A720) Fit for the 21st Century

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Edinburgh's City Bypass has a problem. Left largely unaltered since its construction in the 1980's, the A720 has failed to adapt to the growing population and as such isn't fit for modern day use. Years of ignorance, dithering and inaction by the trunk route's operator, the Scottish Government, has resulted in a major artery that operates at 140% capacity during morning and rush hour periods.

Whilst the Government continues to ponder the solution, for what is the bypass of the country's capital city, the time lost in never ending queues is only stifling our economy. This congestion can't go.

I call upon the Scottish Government to give us a City Bypass that will work for the people of Edinburgh and South East Scotland. Transport Scotland's plans to undertake infrastructure works, to allow the hard shoulder to function as a third lane during peak periods, must be realised with a greater sense of urgency. This Active Management System has proved successful on the M42 by Birmingham and would work well too in Edinburgh, increasing peak hour capacity and going some way to reducing congestion. Their additional plans for slip road signals must also be fully studied to understand the impact on the neighbouring junctions and surrounding routes. Where applicable, like on the A702 trunk road, additional lane capacity on approach to the City Bypass should be implemented. This could be achieved through so called "Red Routes" that prohibit parking during peak periods.

Finally, within the term of the next parliament, the promised Edinburgh Orbital Bus Route must be fully realised. In 2012, feasibility studies were undertaken to ascertain how the route, running from the Forth Road Bridge to Queen Margaret University via the A720, would function and indeed how much it would cost. However plans were shelved due to lack of funding. This intervention will allow commuters to travel by public transport rather than car, and will not only decrease journey times through less congestion but also decrease harmful emissions.

For years, the Scottish Government has neglected the trunk road network around Edinburgh and south towards Penicuik. It is time for change. For a road network suitable for this century and centuries to come. This capital city can no longer sit in a never-ending queue.

Sign this petition today and you are calling on Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government to:

  • Continue infrastructure works to run a hard shoulder along the length of the A720, and implement an Active Traffic Management system to allow it to be used as a third lane during peak periods or as necessary. Priority should be given Straiton to Lothianburn, where carriage widening will be required (no hard shoulder exists today). Lothianburn to the Water of Leith Bridge at Baberton will require only minor works as a wide hard shoulder already exists and should be the first stretch to open using Smart Motorway standards  - A720(M). The ultimate aim should be to upgrade the entire trunk route to be the M720.
  • Undertake transport assessments into the bypass' junctions and surrounding link roads to understand their current capacity and suggest interventions to remedy problems - namely the trunk routes such like the A702 and A68 but the Government should work with local councils to investigate other roads too
  • Accelerate plans to upgrade Sheriffhall Roundabout into a flyover or underpass
  • Complete feasibility studies into the Edinburgh Orbital Bus Route to establish a detailed design. Funding should be sought as part of the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Deal
  • Investigate other multi-modal opportunities e.g the reopening of the Edinburgh South Suburban Railway and the Penicuik to Edinburgh Waverley Railway

Further Reading:

Transport Scotland's "Strategic Transport Review" (2008) (Read Here)- Identifies 29 projects for investment. Project 9 identifies the A720 for a three phase project:

  1. Phase 1 would bring in variable speed limits, delay information displays, ramp metering at key junctions and average speed enforcement.

  2. Phase 2 would see the use of the existing hard shoulder as an additional lane and more extensive ramp metering.

  3. Phase 3 would entail the use of the hard shoulder or introduction of road widening to create a lane for priority vehicles.

SESTran's EOBR Capacity Study (July 2010) identifies that the City Bypass is over capacity for the majority of the day. States that "would worsen in future years beyond 2013." (Read Here)

[Image © Highways England showing the M42 Active Traffic Management System]



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