We are very disappointed and frustrated that this project is further delayed. The actions log from the Transport and Environment Committee of the City Council reveals that:
The design for this scheme is complete and tendering is underway. It is hoped that a contractor will be appointed by the end of May 2021. Expected completion October 2021.
In a further email, this one from Andrew Easson, Road Safety & Active Travel Manager, some more details were revealed:
The scheme to install a zebra crossing at this location was previously being taken forward by colleagues in the Councilís SE Locality roads team, who managed the design process. In the aftermath of the recent Roads Improvement Plan review, under which the Locality roads teams ceased to exist, construction of the crossing has now been incorporated into a contract for Dropped Crossing and Raised Table Improvements, being progressed by the Active Travel team.
This contract is not yet out to tender but all the necessary tender documentation is complete and it is intended that it will be uploaded to the Public Contracts Scotland website later this week. The tender period will be 3 weeks, following which tenders will have to be reviewed and a contract awarded to the successful contractor. This is likely to take around 6-7 weeks in total, following which a further period is required to undertake various pre-construction notifications and processes and for the successful contractor to mobilise their resources. For works of this nature and scope, these processes usually take around 4-6 weeks to complete. Barring unforeseen complications, a completion date of October 2021 for the new crossing therefore seems realistic.
Alan Dunlop, the officer in charge of this project, has emailed a report:
My colleague has nearly all the documents (weíre only awaiting the final modified street lighting connection design) collated and ready to go out via the appropriate Framework contract lot, and Iíll provide an update as soon as this is issued.
On the Road User Safety Audit, we didnít receive any unforeseen comments and Iíve provided the agreed designer / client response Report to the auditors on all the issues raised. Itís not generally released into the public domain, and due to named third parties would need to be provided in redacted form through the Freedom of Information protocols.
Iíll review the overall timescales in the next few days and get back to you with an estimated date for completion.
Alan Dunlop, the officer in charge of this project, has emailed a report:
The Stage 2 Road Safety User Audit arrived on the evening of Friday 5th February, and I am currently responding to the concerns raised. The delay in receiving the audit has inevitably had an impact on the timeline, but I'm working with Active Travel colleagues to issue the tender through the appropriate Framework contract and will be concentrating efforts on this next week. The street lighting design / power connection drawings are also being finalised and the required hardware ordered.
I'll update the group once the tender is issued and give notice of when submissions are to be returned, but given these have to be evaluated and contract award / start dates discussed and agreed with the successful contractor, the crossing will not be in place by April. However, I can assure you all that every effort is being taken to deliver this scheme as quickly as is practicable.
Councillor Cameron Rose raised the subject of the crossing at the recent Transport and Environment Committee to keep the pressure up. It looks as if progress is being made, but we suspect dates have slipped a bit. We understand that the Safety Audit is complete, but we don't know if the job has been put out to tender. We continue to be frustrated by the lack of response from officials to our requests for progress reports.
Presuming we donít encounter any further COVID related obstacles, if we can get the tender out early in January, we could be looking at approximately 2-3 weeks for them to price, 1-2 weeks to appoint a successful contractor, 2-3 weeks to mobilise and a further 1-2 weeks on site so your date of April seems to be about right.
Having discussed with Capita staff in Glasgow, I can update as follows.
Iíll provide further updates as information becomes available, but please feel free to contact me directly should you require anything else clarified in the meantime.
Further to my e-mail of last week, Iíve discussed this project with our consultants in Glasgow and can update as follows.
The full package of drawings and Bill of Quantities is complete and ready to move to the tender stage (note - there are 12 drawings in total, but for information Iíve attached those which give the simplest overview of the crossing details). Iíve asked that Capita now provide a firm programme of dates for issue and projected return of the tender so I can update the group and arrange for the work to be appropriately registered.
I understand the frustration of the group and appreciate the patience shown since it was decided to proceed with the zebra scheme selected through the South / central NEPs over the alternative Road Safety proposal for a signalised crossing further West. The early months of the COVID lockdown did have an inevitable impact on this and other projects and Iíve been working full-time on the Spaces for People project. Furthermore, with the new Transport structure still in a transitional phase (my team are all currently engaged either in SfP or other statutory duties to ensure continuity of service), itís unfortunately left very little opportunity to progress legacy schemes from the South East Locality.
Iíll update again as soon as I have the dates for the tender process, but be assured I remain committed to the scheme and will work with the consultants and successful contractor to deliver the scheme as quickly as is reasonably practicable.
Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding. Iíve been working full time on the Spaces for People project and with the school holidays, itís taken longer than expected to catch up on mail.
The new Transport structure was implemented in August, which effectively centralised all the duties previously managed at Locality level and has seen most of the duties realigned to teams in Waverley Court. Thankfully, Iíll continue with the projects previously taken up through the NEPs programme and should now be able to dedicate some time to progress this and others.
Iím meeting with our consultants on Friday to discuss a scheme at Braidburn Terrace, but will also review where we are with the crossing at Bernard Terrace and establish what steps need to be taken over the next few weeks to move it closer to sign-off on the design and preparing for the tender stage.
Iíll update again next week once I get a better idea of programme and timescale.
Alan Dunlop|Senior Transport Team Leader|Localities|Transport Contracts and Design|Place|The City of Edinburgh Council|Waverley Court, Level G.4, 4 East Market Street, Edinburgh, EH8 8BG|Tel (0131) 529 firstname.lastname@example.org
We wonder why it is all taking so long. Why is it so complicated to design a zebra crossing?
Despite what we were told earlier this month (see below), it seems we are to have a zebra crossing after all.
City of Edinburgh Senior Transport Team Leader Alan Dunlop says:
Itís been some time since my last update in August and Iíd hoped to have provided further information before now. I havenít been party to the Freedom of Information correspondence in relation to the earlier Road Safety proposal to provide a controlled Toucan crossing in Bernard Terrace and itís difficult to provide further comment on the apparent disparity. However, the plans for the NEP funded zebra crossing have progressed and after considering various designs, I attach details of the preferred option for a crossing that prioritises pedestrian movements over the necessity to maintain a wider carriageway and is consistent with the principles of the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance.
Youíll note that the crossing is as near to the North-South pedestrian desire line as possible and itís hoped will encourage use by those who may not otherwise have crossed at a site set further back from the junction with St Leonardís Street. This can be viewed as quite radical, but the approach sightlines are good, and St Leonardís Street is sufficiently wide to accommodate turning vehicles if they have to wait for those on the crossing.
This is being progressed at detailed design stage by our external designers and will be prepared for tender issue in due course. As you may be aware, the majority of Council officers are now working from home, where possible, and although weíll continue to maintain all the services we can, there will be an inevitable impact as the situation develops. However, itís hoped that progress on this scheme will continue as planned.
Still no firm timescales, but we do have a drawing which you can download:
Bernard Terrace Proposed Zebra Crossing General Arrangement
Here is how we think it might look:
Each year for the past few years the South Central Neighbourhood Partnership, the arm of the City Council that looks after our area, have alocated some money and asked us what we would like it spent on. There is usually some for roads capital projects, and we are asked to suggest schemes that are needed in the area, and they are then voted on, most recently by the "Participatory Budgeting" method. In the last round of this process we suggested a pedestrian crossing of Bernard Terrace near the junction with St Leonards Street. In the voting it came top of the poll, so it should have been completely funded, but it hasn't appeared yet.
The voting took place in January 2018, and we understood this was in the 17/18 budget, so it should have happened quite quickly. Now we hear that there is a discussion within the Council as to what kind of crossing it should be. There is a list, apparently, of all the places that pedestrian crossings with traffic lights are needed, and these are prioritised by how urgent they are, and it seems Bernard Terrace is some way down that list. However, we didn't ask for a signalised crossing - a zebra crossing would be just fine, and quite a bit cheaper. So why the delay?
We are now calling on the Council to get this crossing in place as quickly as possible. This is a busy place, with lots of school pupils and university students crossing here. We hope no-one will be hurt here before the Council gets round to putting in the crossing they have promised.
If you feel as we do that this crossing is badly needed, and soon, please write to your Councillors and ask them keep the pressure on officials to make progress with this crossing.
Our sister organisation, the Southside Association, put in a Freedom of Information request asking when we are going to get the Zebra Crossing.
The reply was most unsatisfactory, and didn't really answer the questions asked. It talked about a signalised crossing, saying "It is currently anticipated that the proposed crossing facility on Bernard Terrace will be delivered during the 2021/22 financial year."
Our concerns are that in this extra delay there is a strong chance of somebody being injured crossing the road, and also that a signalised crossing will be posistioned further from the junction than a zebra crossing, making a big detour for pedestrians. This means people won't use it, and will continue to cross in a dangerous way.
It would appear that the Council officials have decided to ignore our request for a zebra crossing, and plan, eventually, to put in a signalised crossing. This makes a complete mockery of local democracy and the participatory budgeting process. However the latest news indicates this is not true. See top of page.
Here is what we wrote to our ward Councillors and Mr Dunlop:
Dear Ward Councillors and Mr Dunlop
The Southside Community Council are very disappointed that the zebra crossing we had been promised for Bernard Terrace, near the junction with St Leonards Street, has apparently been abandoned.
We have been told over the years about the benefits of local democracy and local decision making, and I think the Roads Capital Programme, and the Participatory Budgeting exercises have been an attempt to bring this into being. How frustrating, then, for those of us who joined in this local decision making, came up with projects asked for by local people, and put in the effort required to let the City Council and its officials know exactly what we wanted, to have our suggestions abandoned in this way. We are given the impression that our opinions have no value. The arguments for local democracy say that local knowledge is valuable, and the insights of the residents of an area are valuable in decision making about that area. The impression we are now given is that local knowledge and insights have no value. Not only that, but also we donít need to know what is planned. In June 2019 we were told ďAfter clarifying that weíd progress the zebra proposal on Bernard Terrace rather than deferring until Road Safety could consider a signal controlled crossing,ÖĒ. Now, in March 2020 we find out through an FOI that ďA pedestrian crossing assessment was undertaken on Bernard Terrace, at St Leonardís Street in October 2017, and this location met the criteria for a signalised pedestrian crossing facilityÖIt is currently anticipated that the proposed crossing facility on Bernard Terrace will be delivered during the 2021/22 financial yearĒ
Either the separate parts of the Council do not communicate effectively with one another, or there has been a deliberate attempt to mislead the local community into believing they were getting what they asked for.
As you can tell, we are far from happy with this state of affairs, and we would ask your advice as to how we can take things forward to improve the situation. How can we get Council officials to communicate with us in a way that promotes transparency of decision making? Has local democracy been completely abandoned? If so, why are people still paying lip-service to it?