Kelso one-way trial begins

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MINOR teething troubles seem to be the only problems affecting Kelso’s new one-way town centre traffic system.

The six-month trial scheme came into operation on Sunday and members of the local community council, meeting on Tuesday night, were happy overall with the first few days of its operation.

However, some concerns were expressed that one of Kelso’s most picturesque streets was in danger of becoming a rat-run for drivers confused by the new route.

Prior to the introduction of the system, drivers were able to go both ways along Woodmarket, linking with Bridge Street at one end. But for the next six months, Woodmarket is one-way and drivers who have failed to enter the new one-way route at the eastern end of the town centre are going along Abbey Row to avoid doubling back.

Abbey Row is the small road which runs between the historic old cemetery in the town centre and the rear of shops and other buildings in Woodmarket and Bridge Street, before joining the latter adjacent to the ruined 12th century abbey.

Community councillor Dean Weatherston told Tuesday night’s meeting that he had witnessed a large articulated lorry going round by the back of the abbey.

“There is definitely a lot more traffic going that way. Part of that might be due to the fact the sign opposite the Lidl store informing drivers they are approaching a one-way system is not very visible,” he said.

“One resident told me there had been a huge increase in the amount of traffic going round by this route, including lorries and vans. There’s going to big problems for the road there.”

There were other reports that large vehicles using Abbey Row were having to mount the pavement, as the street is quite narrow and many of the shop and business premises on the street it use it for unloading deliveries.

Councillor Harry Tomcyzk said part of the problem could be due to the fact that in-vehicle satellite navigation systems would not have information on the new one-way system.

“Sat nav systems won’t know we now have a new one-way system in the town,” he said.

But, apart from the Abbey Row issue, the rest of the discussion on the one-way system came to the consensus that the first few days had gone relatively smoothly, with only one or two small niggles such as signs being blown over.

“I did notice three drivers going the wrong way,” added Councillor Tomcyzk, “but that’s probably to be expected at the start. Otherwise, things seem to be going pretty smoothly. However, there are still roadworks to do in connection with it, but it was decided it was better to do these once the traffic system started.”

Provost Fiona Scott said it was very early days when it came to commenting on how the one-way system was faring and it was agreed to review progress at a future meeting.

Paul Frankland, civil engineering design manager at Scottish Borders Council, said the local authority is pleased to note that the one-way trial in Kelso had started well.

“Early feedback from the Kelso Stakeholder Group has been positive and the widened footpaths at the new crossing points are proving a very positive addition,” he told TheSouthern.

“The trial also provides additional on-street parking which is currently being marked out and this will assist shoppers and traders within the town.

“The trial will run for approximately six months. During this period traffic, parking and pedestrian surveys will be undertaken to assist in reaching a decision about the success of the scheme.”