Council bosses have vowed that Hawick’s £44m flood protection scheme will be finished on time despite a six-month delay hitting the start of work on its second phase.
The scheme, designed to protect more than 900 properties at risk along the River Teviot and Slitrig Water, is due for completion in late 2022, with the building of flood defences being due to begin in the town in January.
Advance works have started in Commercial Road, with the first phase of moving underground utilities infrastructure between the Borders Distillery and the Sainsbury’s entrance now under way.
However, the next phase of advance works, due to take place between the Sainsbury’s entrance and Laing Terrace this summer, has now been pushed back to January next year.
A spokesperson for Scottish Borders Council said that the project team needed more time to fulfil obligations agreed with the community at a traffic management meeting held in Hawick Town Hall on May 1.
It insists that the change in schedule will not impact on the main works’ contract completion date, though, or the delivery of flood protection to Hawick.
The delay means the proposed full closure of Commercial Road from next Monday, July 15, will no longer be needed.
Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, the council’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, said: “The decision to postpone the Commercial Road works to 2020 was taken following discussions with the trunk road authority and feedback from the traffic management working group and does not impact on the completion date for the scheme.”
The project team says that following the public meeting in May it needs extra time to design and deliver temporary roadworks for an alternative diversion route through Princes Street and High Street.
The design, to be developed in partnership with Transport Scotland and Amey, will be completed by late September, with any modifications needed set to be made this autumn.
Commercial Road could then be closed, but the team has promised the community and local businesses that the scheme will not impact on the road during the Christmas period.
Mr Edgar added: “We must thank all local businesses and residents for their involvement with the scheme so far.
“We realise this is one of the most significant infrastructure projects to ever happen in Hawick and the Scottish Borders, and we will continue to engage with the public, community groups and businesses.”
Temporary traffic lights are currently in place in Commercial Road as the initial works continue, with the junction between Bath Street and Commercial Road set to be closed as work progresses.
The scheme, launched following widespread flooding when the River Teviot burst its banks in 2015, will consist of almost four miles of flood defence walls and embankments.
It also includes new culverts, surface water pumping stations and a new waste water treatment works pumping station, as well as the replacement of three footbridges and new landscaping.
The procurement process for the main works contractor has begun, and a formal invitation to tender has now been issued to six contractors.