The A7 will need to be closed at Hawick for up to six months to allow flood protection works lined up there to go ahead, it has been revealed.
Ewan Doyle, project manager for the £36m scheme, warned the latest meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s Teviot and Liddesdale area forum that Hawick’s Commercial Road, already shut for three weeks earlier this year, could be closed for almost nine times as long as that while construction is under way.
Members of the forum raised concerns about further disruption to the town’s traffic and businesses following problems experienced during that three-week closure starting on Wednesday, January 25.
That closure was to allow the project team to confirm the suitability of the road’s structure for the flood defence works.
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson said he was “absolutely delighted” that the council had approved outline designs for the project but warned that it wasn’t all good news as major changes to the town’s road and footpath network would be required.
He said: “Lessons must be learned from the recent closure of Commercial Road.
“I am hoping that a one-way system can be put in place for the duration of the works to the flood defences for the town.
“Let’s not be under any illusions – this will be a massive project and what we have learned recently with the closure of Commercial Road will hopefully help us to manage a massive project for the town.
“Hopefully, we can cut the disruption to all concerned to the absolute minimum.
“There will be some major disruption to the town, but hopefully Teries will be well pleased when this major investment in the town’s future is finally completed.”
Following the approval of outline designs for the defences at a full council meeting at the start of last month, this month will see the publication of details of the scheme, with around 4,000 letters being sent out to residents and businesses.
After that, a 29-day objection period will begin.
George Turnbull, chairman of the forum and a fellow councillor for Hawick and Hermitage, added: “The traffic management scheme will have to be very well thought out.
“All aspects of traffic management will have to be considered before and when the flood protection works start to ensure the minimum disruption to businesses and householders.
“This is a major project which will benefit so many, and we will have to be tolerant during the works as the end result will reassure so many property owners and give protection and hopefully minimise any future high flooding events.”
Hawick and Denholm councillor Watson McAteer said: “I welcome news of the progress being made on the Hawick flood prevention scheme.
“I have concerns at the reported prospect of a six-month closure of Commercial road and will be asking the project manager to engage with all businesses and residents to find ways of reducing the time and finding innovative ways of keeping this important transport route open.
“With so many new commercial ventures investing in Hawick, we must find ways of allowing the flood scheme to progress on time while ensuring we remain open for business.”
Completion of the scheme is currently scheduled for March 2022.