Back our bridge plan, villagers urge council

Carlows Bridge at Tweedsmuir - a Timber transport vehicle crossing the bridge on 19.4.11
Carlows Bridge at Tweedsmuir - a Timber transport vehicle crossing the bridge on 19.4.11

A small Borders community is urging councillors to back its plan for a new river crossing to help ease th e problems of logging traffic .

Tweedsmuir residents produced the proposal after news that SBC plans to repair the village’s 220-year-old, B-listed Carlowse Bridge, which is used by timber lorries from four forestry plantations in the area. Carlowse will have to close during the repair work, estimated to take around four months, and much of the village will be cut off during this time.

SBC is committed to providing an alternative access, but its two options, a pedestrian walkway and a vehicular access close to Carlowse, both temporary solutions, met with opposition from a group of residents. A third, produced by the community organisation, Tweedsmuir Bridge Advisory Group, with the help of a local landowner, will also now be considered, and the executive committee is due to make a final decision on which option is progressed on February 18.

Under the bridge group’s plan, a new permanent bridge north of Tweedsmuir would be built. This, in the short term, would provide vehicular access to the village during the Carlowse repairs, but could then be used by logging traffic when Carlowse Bridge is reopened. The plan also includes a new, far safer access on to the A701.

Paul Greaves, a spokesman for the group, set up six years ago following concerns about the state of Carlowse, said: “Following 20 years of use by logging traffic, we’re glad the council has decided to repair the bridge. The need for an alternative access during the repairs unfortunately adds to the overall cost, but we want SBC to spend money on this wisely.

“The council’s temporary alternative access options simply mean that once Carlowse is repaired, logging traffic returns to use the bridge at its present rate, and the council therefore runs the risk of maintenance and repair costs in the future. The lorries at present access the A701 at a very dangerous junction, and, again, the council’s options do nothing to address this. We don’t think this is sensible.

“Our option, on the other hand, would immediately take a substantial amount of logging traffic off the bridge and,subject to an agreement with forestry contractors, could lead to the removal of all logging lorries from Carlowse and the dangerous access on to the A701. That could represent a massive financial saving to the council in the long run as well as protecting Carlowse long term.

“In short, we feel it is much better value to spend money on something with a long-term legacy that truly helps the village, than money that is basically being used for a temporary access, and has no long-term benefit at all.”