Galashiels faces a summer of disruption with major works starting as the Borders Railway closes two well-used traffic and pedestrian routes.
Network Rail will shut Plumtreehall Brae and two large sections of the Black Path on Monday, while council schemes to improve the town centre and flood defences begin next month, followed by the start of the transport interchange in October.
A new civic space will be created in Cornmill Square, as well as work to the High Street. The realignment of Stirling Street is needed to make room for the interchange at Ladhope Vale, and a new car park and civic space. The Gala Water flood defence project will also see work in the Plumtree area, with its bridge to be demolished by Borders Railway contractor BAM Nuttall and replaced by a footbridge.
Galashiels Chamber of Trade chairman David Houston has urged townsfolk to stay patient ahead of the inevitable delays.
Mr Houston told The Southern: “The transport interchange will benefit the town centre in that all pedestrian traffic will be directed into the heart of the town and more new parking will be created at the old bus station site.
“The Cornmill Square work will entice pedestrian traffic from the retail parks into Bank Street and Channel Street and the High Street improvements will create a nicer space with more on-street parking right next to shops. Overall, more pieces of the jigsaw are being put in place to ensure Galashiels is in pole position to attract new businesses as the economy recovers over the next few years.”
Councillor Gordon Edgar, SBC representative for infrastructure, said: “I realise that these (works) may cause some inconvenience for local people, but would urge you to remember that these changes will bring some significant benefits for local businesses and the creation of a transport exchange for travel into and out of the Borders for local people and visitors.”
Hugh Wark of Network Rail added: “The closure of Plumtreehall Brae to traffic will create a safer and more attractive route for pedestrians and for local residents once the new footbridge is constructed.”