POLICE and council workers were on hand from early this morning as Galashiels’ new inner relief road project was finally completed and open to traffic, writes Mark Entwistle.
The project, which began in 2005, cost a total of £12million, and Scottish Borders Council says it hopes the scheme will ease congestion, as well as provide environmental benefits for residents, visitors and businesses.
Council leader David Parker joined the town’s Braw Lad and Braw Lass, Ryan Mania and Nicola Mackay, to cut the ribbon and formally declare the scheme open.
Part of the project involved converting the town’s Ladhope Vale back to two-way traffic, nearly two decades after the last time it carried vehicles in both directions.
And there has been concern that the junction between Island Street and Bridge Place could see problems if two large lorries attempt to negotiate it at the same time.
However, all seemed to be going smoothly on the first day. Mr Parker told TheSouthern: “I’m extremely pleased. This marks the end of six years of roadworks in Galashiels - it’s been a major project to do all the different roadworks in the town, starting with the replacement of the Station Brae and now culminating in making Ladhope Vale two-way.”
On possible problems with the new lay-out, Mr Parker said extensive modelling had been done to ensure things would work well.
He told us: “The network seems to be running very well so far - there was a lot of work and modelling done to make sure it runs properly, so I’m very confident that congestion will not be an issue.”
One of the main aims of the scheme is to divert heavy through traffic away from the
town centre, making the middle of Galashiels more pedestrian and visitor friendly.
This includes extensive changes to the Market Square, complete with new flagstones bearing carved lyrics from a song by the band, Marillion.
The band’s former frontman and lead singer, Derek Dick - better known as Fish to fans - drew on his experiences in Galashiels where his girlfriend was a student at the local textiles college for his lyrics for his 1980s hit, Kayleigh.
The Haddington-based singer told TheSouthern he felt “very humbled and touched” by the decision to immortalise his lyrics in stone.