Minutes of the Community Councils Together on Trams/Trams Team meeting (Construction Phase) via Google Meet on Thursday 19 August 2021 at 5:30pm
Actions and decisions are red italic. ‘TT’ means ‘Trams Team’. Names are sometimes abbreviated to initials.
|Mike Birch||CCTT/NTBCC||Steve Jackson||TT||Bruce Ryan||CCTT minutes secretary|
|Charlotte Encombe||CCTT/LCCC||Andrew Mackenzie||CCTT /LLCC||Harald Tobermann||CCTT/LCCC|
|Angus Hardie||CCTT/LLCC||Jennifer Marlborough||CCTT/LHNCC||Chris Wilson||TT|
3 Final Design / Landscape Issues
3.a Leith Walk pavement width below ESDG (P3)
- S Jackson: it was always envisaged that some parts of the footpath would be narrower than ESDG’s ‘desirable’ value. This is due to the bottom of Leith Walk narrowing, and having competing demands from active travel, bin-bays loading-bays, bus-stops, trams etc. Such pinch-points are ‘pretty short’ – they are listed in a document. There are about 6 such points that are down to 2 meters.
- H Tobermann: surely other things should be narrowed to maintain desirable pavement widths. Who authorised this? Some of these ‘points’ are 35 metres long, so are not insignificant.
- S Jackson: this is the length of a bus-stop. They are on both sies of the Walk.
- H Tobermann: they total ~250m, a tenth of the length of Leith Walk, so are not trivial. Pedestrians are most important in Edinburgh’s travel hierarchy, so should not have been ‘squeezed’ like this.
- M Birch: many of our comments were deemed ‘immaterial’ to the TRO’s approval. Were these widths approved by other means?
- S Jaclson: Approval of designs occurred when final business case (FBC) was approved.
- M Birch: At no point when collecting comments did R Armstrong state that these had already been approved. I understand that drawings have changed since FBC approval (drawing dates post-date the FBC), so what is being built doesn’t necessarily match the FBC’s designs. So was there any point in these discussions? It is disappointing that input by CCs, Living Streets etc are being ignored. Is there no appeal against today’s decision [to approve the TRO) by CEC’s transport and environment committee (TEC)? Were decisions taken at previous TEC meetings?
- S Jackson: principles (layout of footpath [including tight points], cycleway, bus-stops etc) were all decided when the FBC was approved, albeit there has been subsequent work on the detailed designs resulting from ‘consultation with individuals’. There was extensive consultation on the FBC.
- M Birch: I refute this. Some legitimate concerns have not been taken seriously. ESDC standards (including shared use space) have been ignored, e.g. east side Elm Row, where a split in the cycle path causes problems for pedestrians accessing the bus stop. R Armstrong could not explain this part of the design. We highlighted this, and at the last minute learn that such comments have no value because approval has already been given. Yet significant changes have been made after FBC approval. So who approved these changes, and how do we raise concerns with them?
- S Jackson: changes were decided by the tram board via its processes. Fundamental principles have not been changed, so these changes did not need to be referred to CEC/TEC.
- J Marlborough: Similar changes since FBC approval have happened in places along the whole route. Cycleways etc are not identified with any clarity.
- H Tobermann: CCTT needs to think how it takes this issue forward.
- J Marlborough: longstanding queries include how buses will turn here. Final landscaping drawings are not available, yet work has started so these drawings must exist. What is being built does not match the drawings available to us.
- S Jackson: I disagree – the design drawings that are in the public domain are ‘very much aligned to what we are building’. Detailed design drawings need to be finished to show final landscaping.
- J Marlborough: [as an example]: in the area where trees have been removed at the entrance, concrete things are not on the drawings.
- S Jackson: these planters are on the drawings, and have been there for some time. It may be that the drawings have not been labelled well.
- A Hardie: as the project continues, what deviations from principles should be brought to CCTT. CCTT’s concern is for the quality of the resulting public realm. We need to be comfortable with the designs, have a clear picture of the final public realm, and be aware who will maintain it.
- H Tobermann: CEC will be CEC’s duty. There are issues with drawing resolutions, so I was not able to work out earlier that pavement widths (section 3.a) were narrow. Hence the table (also in that section) was new to me.
- S Jackson: We welcome comments on how to make drawings more accessible.
- C Wilson: if we are waiting on a final landscape design, which would inform drawings, can we use one of these meetings to go through them in detail?
- C Encombe: TT could use work-site fences to display high-resolution drawings and further information, so people can compare them with reality.
- S Jackson: yes
- H Tobermann: due to the TEC decision today, we will get what was in the advertised TRO. Does it show loading zones and other traffic management aspects? Is it now more difficult to change these? Some kerb-lines were partially installed before the TEC decision – did TT take a calculated risk?
- S Jackson: the design is now pretty fixed I terms of parking, loading and hence kerb-lines. Yes, TT took a calculated risk.
- M Birch: significant work on traffic modelling (TM) had been under way. R Armstrong was due to contact me once some issues had been resolved. What has happened as a result of theTM work? Can the TM now be shared with CCTT?
- S Jackson: I don’t see why not. I need to speak with Jacobs about presenting it in an appropriate format. There is someone who can take CCTT though it, e.g. for East London St.
- Action: S Jackson/R Armstrong to arrange suitable meeting.
- A Mackenzie: We have had assurance on landscaping items such as trees, but it is difficult to understand how things will work in the context of other non-tram changes (low traffic neighbourhood, controlled parking, etc). Hence we welcome these non-tram changes being delayed until the Foot of the Walk junction is complete. How will these TRO changes work in the context of other changes? What happens if the trams design is incorrect? How much flexibility for change is there?
- S Jackson: the design has been modelled – TT is confident it will work. CEC might change things once trams are operational, but that would be a different project.
- M Birch: thank you for additional detail, and for the worked example. I can follow this but struggled with others.
- Action: J Jackson to arrange a separate meeting on this
- M Birch: there are issues with interfaces between the tram project and other CEC work, e.g. at Leopold Place, trams project and Spaces for People. When we raise issues, both sides blame each other. How are these interfaces/ boundaries between trams project and CEC managed? For example, trams drawing of London Rd shows a cycle path starting abruptly. Shouldn’t it be linked with the cycle path already installed by CEC on London Road?
- S Jackson: you’re right (about the cycle path)
- H Tobermann: such issues need political leadership
4 Construction/disruption Issues
4.a Reasons for poor progress of pavement works on west side of Leith Walk
- H Tobermann: in May, TT stated that these works would be completed in July. Why are they not complete?
- S Jackson: there are issues with supplies of concrete (specifically cement) across Scotland. We normally receive 100 to 120m3 per day, but currently are receiving a maximum of 30m3 per day. This is a unique occurrence.
- S Jackson: This has affected Leith Walk footways. Also, in the last 8 weeks workers had to self-isolate against COVID. This is now being resolved, so this work has accelerated over the last week. Additional resources will be applied next week. Hence we are prioritising use of concrete to ensure meeting the overall schedule.
- S Jackson: we had three concrete suppliers. Two pulled their contracts. We hope to get these back.
- S Jackson: although these footpaths are made of flagstones, concrete is needed for drainage pipes, ducting, gullies etc.
- S Jackson: we reported this issue and our proposed mitigation to the tram board last month. The board endorse them.
4.b Deteriorating road conditions on diversion routes (north) and Leith Walk running lane (south)
- H Tobermann: there have been relevant complaints about Leith Walk, Leopold Place, Easter Rd (bus diversion route). Who is fixing these?
- S Jackson: TT is handling the running lane on Leith Walk.
- Action: S Jackson to check who is looking after the wider diversion issues – these are outwith the trams project.
- M Birch: According to an article in the Broughton Spurtle, an property on Haddington Place has been damaged by vibration caused by the tram-project. The owner reported this via TT’s system, but was referred to the Edinburgh Shared Repair Service (ESRS). This is surprising. Is there vibration monitoring in this part of the route.
- S Jackson: there is a monitor relatively nearby. In all instances, vibration meets legal requirements. Hence the referral to the ESRS.
- M Birch: monitoring/legislation is about averages, not incidents of high vibration. The running lane is on the other side of Leith Walk, so if there is an issue if must be due to tram-construction. What is the process?
- S Jackson: we have data covering all the time of the construction. Monitoring has shown a couple of spikes but these were due to issues with the monitors, and were spurious. We undertook external surveys of properties – and some internal surveys -so we knew conditions before work started. We then set up the monitors to ensure compliance. If complaints are received, we check vibration data. In this instance, monitoring shows we are not at fault. Someone from the ESRS has inspected this property. TT believes it is not at fault.
- C Wilson: health and safety is a paramount issue for us. When this report of falling masonry came in, I personally asked Building Standards to investigate. They did so. We continue to have dialogue with this owner, and are happy to engage with others who have complaints. We are at pains to tell such people to contact their own insurers, because they may invalidate their own insurance, which we would not want.
- S Jackson: standards are in relevant documentation. TT meets the standards for sensitive areas.
- M Birch: An issue on Gayfield Square, associated with road surface defects on Leith Walk, has been raised. I understand Lothian Buses have highlighted such issues to R Armstrong. When will work be done? The tram project tends to get blamed for things, even if it is not responsible for them. CCTT does not want TT to be blamed unfairly, or distracted.
- S Jackson: we tend to fix things that are in our area
- Action: S Jackson to ensure this is on R Armstrong’s to-do list
4.c Traffic congestion west of Leith Walk following Pilrig Street closure
- A Hardie: what is the cause of major congestion at the foot of Constitution St. It’s causing very poor publicity for TT.
- S Jackson: we but held this off as much as possible, but are now taking the track across this junction. Hence there is now a contraflow here. We continue to monitor the traffic lights here. There were a couple of issues with the lights last week, but these are now minimised.
- C Wilson: I can see Lochend Rd just now.It was bad last week, including Friday evening, but it has go slightly easier, in part due to opening the Manderston St/Leith Walk junction. Links Gardens should now also be open.
- A Hardie: it has calmed a little. TT needs a better strategy for such issues.
- J Marlborough: North Junction St and Great Junction St have been horrendous – buses are delayed until they reach the bus lane, causing back-up to Ferry Rd and Commercial St at busy times, and delays to bus services.
- S Jackson: working through the nights to speed up such work would be dangerous.
- C Encombe: when buses travelling in opposite directions on McDonald Rd meet, this causes serious problems. Bonnington Rd is equally awful. Buses need to turn at Newhaven Rd but the road isn’t wide enough. Signs are needed to give sufficient notice that roads are closed. There are so many bollards etc that no-one pays attention to such important signage. Hence a cull of un-necessary street furniture, and introduction of suitable signage, is needed.
- C Encombe: I understand that pavement-parking is banned, yet no-one is tackling this, e.g. on the Cambridges.
- H Tobermann: if closures are inevitable, clarity is needed. Changes should be installed and then left in place so avoid confusion.
- S Jackson: I don’t agree that there are constant changes. We have made some roughly simultaneous changes just now, but have not changed the traffic management significantly.
- H Tobermann: does TT have someone supervising Class One’s work?
- S Jackson: Class One is a subcontractor for the main contractor. All traffic management is taken through the relevant
- S Jackson: it is true that Pilrig St will be closed for 9 months.
- C Encombe. TT should advertise this clearly and in advance.
- J Marlborough: a large van is hiding signage showing Bonnington Toll junction is closed. Such issues need to be fixed.
- B Ryan: I am told that signage telling cyclists of the cycle-routes parallel to Leith Walk is not visible. Please get this fixed.
- Action: S Jackson to have signage reviewed thoroughly.
5 Review of latest metrics
No issues raised
5.b Geographical breakdown of public queries (‘tickets’)
- C Wilson: this breakdown covers up to 21 June. These breakdowns have been issued monthly since late April. The only noteworthy change this month is that Constitution St has gone from 24 to 36 queries, in line with work on CS footpaths. However there are no major issues.
6 Looking ahead
6.a Upcoming TT plans 20 August through to end September
- S Jackson: The first big change will be opening of section between Baltic St and Constitution Place, due to be completed in 2-3 weeks (including pavements) and hence opened to general traffic.
- C Wilson: some small works may continue here after this opening.
- S Jackson: there will be no big changes on Constitution St this month apart from the ones discussed above.
- S Jackson: work will continue on Leith Walk in terms of traffic and site management
- S Jackson: around 10 October, implementation of traffic management will start between York Place and London Rd. We now have formal approval for this work.
- C Wilson: a comprehensive communications plan is being created. We are working on how to get people to sign up to receive this information. NTBCC is a key stakeholder here, so at the start of September we will take you through plans. We want to start communicating about this early, to give sufficient notice.
- M Birch: this would fit with NTBCC’s schedule. NTBBC can help publicise communications.
- H Tobermann: what are the predicted impacts of the York Place to London Rd work?
- S Jackson: for stage 1, Broughton St will remain open from Picardy Place. Traffic will not be displaced, thanks to a lane either side of the site, so Leith can be accessed from the city centre, and vice versa. This work starts in October.
- J Marlborough: will there be changes on Melrose Drive and Lindsay Rd? Work here seems to be progressing quickly.
- S Jackson: the diversion from Lindsay Rd along Melrose Drive should come off in early January 2022.
- S Jackson: there may be minor changes to pedestrian crossings in September.
- C Wilson: there are now ‘next pedestrian crossing X distance away’.
- S Jackson: there will be no changes to bus routes in September.
- C Wilson: Morrisons Utility Services (MUS) will cease using the Powderhall site (no longer be available, TT wants to get away from a primary school), and start using 165 Leith Walk (the former bus station). MUS will access this site via Halmyre St from 30 August. A letter drop was done today.
- H Toberman: Halymyre St is narrow and residential. This is accessed from the rear, via Manderston St. This change is a surprise. We think this will cause very many, problems from noise and congestion. Who decided this?
- S Jackson: It’s up to contractors to find sites for their compounds. MUS leased this site from a private entity.
- S Jackson: we anticipate completion of track construction between Coatfield Lane and Lawrie St in early November. This will enable work starting between Coatfield Lane and Queen Charlotte St.
- H Tobermann: TT’s map shows completion in autumn 2021, so is there slippage?
- S Jackson: we anticipate work being done on time.
6.b Upcoming design challenges
- S Jackson: there are no challenges that cannot be overcome within our schedule. We have not excavated everywhere yet, but do not anticipate challenges of the scale of the Jane St gas main.
- S Jackson: we are considering how to make the Rennie’s Isle work more efficient. So the diversion for pedestrians and cyclists will remain as-is until this section is opened. We anticipate no delays to this work. Some remedial work is needed here: some of this has been completed, so one bridge is ready for track-slab and track-laying
- J Marlborough: there is much pavement-cycling here due to cobbles, endangering pedestrians.
6.c Upcoming construction challenges
- H Tobermann: where is concrete most needed?
- S Jackson: wherever track is not yet installed. As noted above, concrete is being diverted to program-critical locations, e.g. Foot of Leith Walk. We have worked out priorities.
- H Tobermann: Why is concrete being poured layer-by-layer at Shrub Place rail-bridge?
- S Jackson: here, and at another Leith Walk location that has major electricity cables, special methods are needed.
7 Changes to project phasing and completion (if any)
7.a Changes to major milestones (see map below)
- S Jackson: TT is on track to achieve milestones as planned. Completion is unchanged.
7.b £6m budget issues raised in the press
- S Jackson: this has been reported incorrectly. Spend of £56m was anticipated for last year, but £50m was actually spent, i.e. there was underspend caused mainly by work pausing during lockdown. Other causes were slowed work due to complex utility work (e.g. Jane St, Tower St). Here anticipated spend on track-slab has not yet occurred. All of these risks were on the risk register, and have been mitigated via planned big construction sites enabling diversion of resources. The £6m concerned will be spent in the future.
7.c Concrete supply issues
See above discussions.
9 Next meeting
THU 30 September 2021