WORK on new traffic calming measures in the centre of Lerwick will get underway next week and is expected to last for around three months.
The first phase of the £234,000 project will begin on Wednesday with the installation of a new raised table pedestrian crossing and the widening of pavements at the junction of South Commercial Street and Church Road.
Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee voted earlier this month to introduce a 20mph limit at Lerwick’s Esplanade, as well as other measures intended to reduce the accident rate and make the area more “friendly” for pedestrians.
However, quite a few islanders took to social networking websites to disagree with the plans, which will also see speed cushions installed on the road, and suggest that the project isn’t the best use of public money.
Nearly £170,000 of the work’s cost is coming from national body Sustrans, with the SIC contributing £41,000 and the Scottish Government coughing up £25,000.
Three out of the four crossings on the Esplanade will be replaced by raised zebra crossings and four speed cushions will be installed on the road.
A new zebra crossing will be also be added outside Mareel in the North Ness Business Park, while 20mph signage will be erected throughout the area.
Work is expected to continue through to May, but vehicles will continue to be able to access the Esplanade and Church Road.
Shetland Islands Council’s road manager Dave Coupe said: “Since councillors approved this scheme, we have had to move quickly to finalise the details and timetable for the works to fit in with time available for the significant external funding available for this project.
“These traffic calming works will help to make Lerwick Town Centre a more pedestrian friendly place, from the top of Church Road and along the Esplanade as far as the North Ness.”
SIC traffic and road safety engineer Colin Gair previously told the environment and transport committee that the area had an accident rate of two per year – a figure described as “statistically significant” given the population.
The committee also agreed to undertake a consultation on extending and amending the pedestrianisation of Commercial Street and the short-stay parking zone in the town centre.
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