ALTHOUGH the £3.4million realignment of the A72 at Dirtpot Corner between Innerleithen and Peebles is not set to get underway until 2018/19, Scottish Borders Council has agreed to categorise the work as “a major priority”.
This means that, although only £275,000-worth of slope stabilisation measures will be done in the next financial year, if there are any underspends in other capital budgets or unanticipated cash from the Scottish Government, the project will be first in line to benefit.
The status was agreed by councillors on Thursday after a plea from Tweeddale East councillor Gavin Logan.
“We know that the Scottish Government has been handed £382million by the UK Government to spend on infrastructure and roads, so let us hope some of it can be used to bring forward work at Dirtpot Corner,” said Mr Logan.
The slopes of Dirtpot, where a motorcyclist died after losing control of his machine last summer, have a history of instability and previous landslips have led to lengthy road closures and major disruption.
The work earmarked for the coming year involves adding further structural netting, secured by metal pins, on the steepest part of the slope to hold loose surface material in place. Large and potentially unstable trees will be removed. That work is due to begin in the late summer of this year.
The realignment is a cheaper solution than a £4.5million scheme involving a new road bridge, previously envisaged.
This will involve moving the A72 away from the steep slope by constructing a reinforced earth embankment within the existing riverbank area, providing a wider carriageway and a safety zone for fallen debris.
Mr Logan told us: “I’m sure everyone in Tweeddale will welcome these proposals which do not involve the use of our precious reserve fund as proposed by the SNP.”
Robert Young, SBC’s head of engineering and infrastructure, added: ““What is being proposed is a pragmatic solution in a difficult environment.”