councillors will today be urged to take action over one of the region’s worst accident blackspots – the junction for Borders General Hospital, writes Mark Entwistle.
In the 10 years up until 2011, there were 18 vehicle accidents involving injuries at the junction, which comes off the A6091 Melrose bypass.
Work, costing £10,000, to realign the turn-off was authorised by Transport Scotland and carried out in conjunction with Scottish Borders Council in December, halting vehicles turning right onto the bypass towards the A68, against the flow of oncoming traffic. Instead, all traffic, with the exception of emergency vehicles, must turn left to the nearby roundabout, then come back down the bypass route.
But within days of the changes being implemented there were a further two injury accidents.
And now Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker says enough is enough and has lodged a motion for debate by the full session of the local authority when it meets today, calling for a thorough investigation into the creation of a roundabout or slip road. He has been working quietly behind the scenes to try and get changes made to the BGH junction to reduce what he describes as its “appalling accident record”.
Former local Liberal Democrat MSP Jeremy Purvis had also been involved in efforts to get action taken to resolve the problems.
“Changes have been brought about this year, but I was quite sceptical as to whether these would work, but was prepared to wait to see what happened,” Mr Parker told TheSouthern this week.
“Within days of the changes being in place there have been a further two accidents at least, and these are not in the figures in my motion. The purpose of raising the motion at council is to highlight that there have been 18 injury accidents at this junction since 2001 – this excludes damage-only accidents which we don’t have figures for, but there have been many.
“It is an appalling situation that the main entrance to our general hospital should be an accident blackspot and I receive numerous comments regularly about near misses and trouble at this junction.
“In my view, Transport Scotland needs to implement an engineered solution, either reconfiguring the layout of the junction altogether or introducing a slip road or a roundabout at the entrance to resolve the ongoing issues.”
Mr Parker said if his motion is successful, he intends to write to all Borders MPs and MSPs, along with the transport minister, to secure a properly-funded study to come up with a permanent solution for this problem.
“I then want a commitment that the outcome of the study will be implemented. A great many Borders residents have highlighted to me problems at this junction and I was astonished with the figure of 18 injury accidents.
“We are quite clear from discussions with the police and others that there have been a great many damage-only accidents as well.
“The situation is unacceptable – it must not continue and I hope to have the unanimous support from council in urging that something is done.”
There have already been a number of reports of drivers ignoring the changes and there still being problems at the junction. Mr Parker added: “It is not tinkering with signage or direction that we need – it is a permanent, properly thought-through engineered solution.”