The replacement of old metal gas mains in Galashiels is “essential”, according to infrastructure utility Scottish Gas Networks (SGN).
The company has apologised in advance for any “inconvenience” resulting from the works which will see the closure – for at least two months – of a key section of the town centre road network.
And it has announced a compensation scheme for local businesses hit by the disruption.
The three-phase upgrade, involving the installation of plastic piping with a lifespan of 80 years, will start on Monday, January 5, with three weeks of work on Bank Street Brae, which traffic will be able to pass. The major second phase, between the junctions of Bank Street Brae and Sime Place, will see the complete closure of that section of one-way Bank Street and High Street for eight weeks.
Two local diversion options will be in place: the first will circumnavigate the works via Bank Street Brae, Livingstone Place, Scott Street, Kirkbrae, Hall Street and Island Street – allowing access to the top end of High Street; the second will be via Albert Place, Braw Lads Brae, George Craig Bridge (between the supermarkets), Currie Road, Ladhope Vale and Bridge Place.
Pedestrian access will be retained throughout, while bus diversion routes are still being discussed and will be publicised later this month.
The closure is set to continue for an unspecified period to allow Scottish Borders Council to carry out its scheduled resurfacing of Bank Street and High Street.
“We are still in negotiations about this with SGN, but our aim is to minimise disruption,” said a council spokesman. “It was made clear to SGN that this is a busy area of Galashiels which has already experienced a lot of disruption, but SGN say the work is essential.”
The final phase of the gas mains replacement, which traffic will be able to pass, will focus on the stretch of Bank Street between the junctions of St John Street and Bank Street Brae and is scheduled to last for six weeks.
SGN says that during the works, a member of its finance team will be available to deal with questions about a compensation scheme for small businesses who suffer “genuine loss of trade”. Further details of this scheme and how to apply are available on www.sgn.co.uk.
“We will be doing everything we can to minimise disruption and complete our works as quickly as possible,” said SGN construction manager Stuart Pinder.
“We understand road works can be frustrating and we’re very sorry for any inconvenience.”