A Galashiels businessman this week described Borders Railway contractors and other hauliers as “negligent” and warned mud on main roads is an accident waiting to happen.
Company director Lawrence Niven’s criticism comes after police on the Edinburgh bypass fined him £100 for a dirty number plate as he drove to his daughter’s carol singing, last Friday afternoon.
The businessman, who commutes from his rural home near Galashiels to his printing and embroidery firm at Loanhead, had rung Transport Scotland just hours earlier to alert officials to the problem of mud on the A7 and A68.
Mr Niven has since contacted Michael Moore MP and local councillors to urge action and told them: “The A7, at Fountainhall and Heriot in particular, as well as the A68 around Soutra, are in a deplorable state as a result of railway work and hauliers’ disregard for other road users. The muck and damage to the roads is both disgraceful and out of control.
“The knock-on effect of this neglect is road damage to A, B and C class roads, dangerous driving conditions for other road users, a further deterioration of any white lines, difficult night driving and all this prior to proper winter conditions.
“There is unquestionably a serious accident waiting to happen and rather than waiting for this, will SBC and all the other agencies get their heads together and get the roads into a semblance of order?
“A typical journey between Galashiels and the Edinburgh City bypass could easily result in an illegible number plate on a daily basis.
“I am already using the A68 instead of the A7 to attend my work, so a disproportionate fine on top of (extra) car washing and fuel made my day.”
He told us: “I think Network Rail and (contractors) BAM are negligent. It’s obvious where they are pulling quarried materials from, that is the source of the dirt and they are being negligent by allowing that not to be contained.”
A Network Rail spokesman said: “The Borders Railway is not using the A68 as a supply route. Private operators using this route do so under their own site rules and are not under the supervision of Borders Railway.
“We are in regular contact with Police Scotland and Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to manage the road conditions.”
He continued: “There are no immediate safety concerns regarding the A7, however, if conditions deteriorate, we will stop site access and work with the police and local authorities to tackle the issue.
“The A7 is admittedly dirty and is likely to remain so while we undertake the major civil engineering work required.”
After a meeting with police, BAM, Network Rail and SBC representatives at Falahill earlier this week, Borders MP Michael Moore said yesterday (Wednesday): “This meeting with the most senior decision makers involved in the construction and monitoring of the railway saw all present make a commitment to safety above all else. It is understandable that people have been alarmed, given the filthy conditions.
“All present stressed that liaison will be closer and more regular and road safety will be of paramount importance”.