WORK to repair damage to the Potburn Road in the Ettrick Valley using a ‘revolutionary’ system has finally been completed, writes Sandy Neil.
Damage caused by timber lorries and the worst winter in the Borders for 30 years had taken it’s toll. Extensive timber extraction began on the road in April 2010, and due to the combination of fully-laden timber lorries and frozen temperatures, the road quickly deteriorated and became unsuitable for cars to use.
The Potburn road can only be accessed from Ramseycleuch on the B709 and comes to a dead end at the old Potburn Farm, from where farm tracks lead up on to the Southern Upland Way – a favourite destination for hikers and mountain bikers.
The new ‘Glasgrid Reinforcing System’ lays rolls of fibreglass mesh sheets under the tarmac carriageway to strengthen the road. Improvements to an 8km length of the 12km single track unclassified road will cost £710,000 overall, of which 45 per cent was raised from the Strategic Timber Transport scheme and 45 per cent from Scottish Borders Council (SBC).
Potburn is home to a close- knit community, many of whom depend on the surrounding land to make a living and who regard the Potburn Road as the lifeline to their livelihoods and homes.
Early in 2011 a group of local residents, farms, businesses, the primary school, community council and local councillor Vicky Davidson, in conjunction with SBC, pulled together the successful funding bid to repair the road. Cllr Davidson said: “I organised a public meeting in the Boston Hall at the end of February last year as the road had become almost impassable as a result of the heavy timber lorries and the extreme winter, and invited representatives of the Scottish Timber Transport Fund, the Forestry Commission and the council roads department to hear first hand how badly residents were being affected by the state of the road.
“Some emergency patching work was carried out at the time but there was clearly a need for major strengthening and safety work given the volume of timber lorries which use this road.
“Once we heard the bid had been successful I held another public meeting in June to discuss exactly what work was going to take place and the best way of managing 17 weeks of road closures, not easy for residents with no alternative road.
“There was great communication between the roads department and the residents and minimum inconvenience as a result.”
Works began in August 2011 and ended in February this year as the Temporary Road Closing Order was lifted.
“It is a fantastic improvement and the use of the Glasgrid layer as well as the major drainage works should make sure it can stand up to the timber haulage in future. It was a great community effort providing the letters and evidence to support the bid and a very successful outcome.”
Colin Ovens, Roads Manager at SBC explained: “Along with the installation of the Glasgrid Reinforcing System and carriageway resurfacing, improvements have been made to existing drainage systems including resurrecting existing ditches on the top side of the road, clearing existing stone culvert cross drains and replacing collapsed culverts where possible.
“Passing places have been improved to assist road users in passing haulage lorries and to prevent the deterioration of the road verges.
“The patience and cooperation of the Potburn community has been integral in helping SBC complete the works. They have actively supported the project from beginning to end.”