Work will start this weekend on changing road layouts to allow better physical distancing in Aberdeen city centre.
Aberdeen council is working with partners, including NHS Grampian, to allow activity to safely resume in the city centre.
Work is starting tomorrow on widening pavements to allow for better physical distancing for pedestrians.
Aberdeen City Council was awarded a £1.76m grant on Monday from the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund to carry out the temporary works.
The grant will pay for a roll out of temporary measures to allow people to walk, cycle, and queue for buses and shopping while adhering to physical distancing guidance.
Measures taking place include pedestrianisation, pavement widening, temporary bike lanes, and one-way walking.
The city centre, and Union Street in particular, faces challenges because pavements are not wide enough to accommodate the current 2-metre level of physical distancing.
The first stage of work includes pedestrianisation of the section of Union Street between Bridge Street and Market Street, pedestrianisation of the section of Schoolhill between Harriet Street and Flourmill Lane, pedestrianisation of Bon Accord Street between Union Street and Langstane Place, and pedestrianisation of Summer Street and Chapel Street both from Union Street to Thistle Street.
The first stage of the work will mean the reallocation of bus lanes on Union Street for queuing and relocation of some bus stops to more appropriate locations, re-routing of bus services around Bridge St, Guild St, Market Street, buses only at the top of Market Street turning onto Union Street, and the taxi rank on Back Wynd relocated to Flourmill Lane and Bath Street.
It is anticipated the works for the first stage will be completed within the next two to three weeks.
Traffic around the centre is being re-routed to free up carriageway space for businesses, pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users.
Access will still be provided to the city centre car parks as well as for residents and businesses. Access to the car parks at Bon Accord Centre and M&S/Marischal Square will also be maintained.
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “I’m delighted work is starting so soon after the grant application was approved only on Monday.
“The temporary active travel measures will help to look after health and wellbeing needs of residents to allow people walk and cycle during this public health emergency whilst physically distancing and keeping safe from traffic.
“These temporary interventions will also allow people to move safely around the city centre which will help to start the social and economic recovery of the city and the wider region.”
The program was developed with NHS Grampian, transport organisation NESTRANS, and Business Improvement District operator Aberdeen Inspired, and organisations which have been consulted include city centre businesses, bus companies, taxi firms, Police Scotland, the Disability Equity Partnership, and other local groups.
Chair of Nestrans, Councillor Sandra Macdonald, said: “I’m pleased to see how swiftly the council has acted to implement changes on Union Street and Schoolhill to get the city centre moving again safely.
“Our city will look and feel quite different for some time to come, and these actions provide the safest way to support those who live, work and shop in the city centre.
“Working with key partners and feedback from the public, the impact and effectiveness of the interventions will be monitored and evaluated.
“This will allow us to adapt, where needed, to ensure we have the right solution for our area, particularly as we move through Phase 1 and beyond.”
As part of consultation with the public, an online questionnaire is available at https://consultation.aberdeencity.gov.uk/planning/physical-distancing and people are invited to take part.
Consultation with the public will be carried out throughout the temporary interventions, along with monitoring of user and traffic numbers and consultation with local businesses.