The impending rollout of the so-called A7 route accident reduction plan, announced by Transport Scotland earlier this year, has been confirmed by Scottish Government transport minister Humza Yousaf in response to a written question from Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton.
“What is the Scottish Government doing to improve road safety on the A7 in light of recent fatalities?” asked the Conservative MSP.
There were two fatal crashes on the A7 last month – at Kirkton Bridge, north of Langholm, on Monday, August 7, when Carlisle teenager Harry Blowing was killed, and at Galabank, north of Stow, where Edinburgh van driver Ian Burnett, 40, died after a two-vehicle collision three days later.
Mr Yousaf reminded Mrs Hamilton that the route north of Galashiels is not a trunk road and is thus the responsibility of the relevant local authorities – Scottish Borders Council and Midlothian Council.
And he said Transport Scotland, trunk road operator Amey and Police Scotland had concluded after a site visit that no road issues were identified as contributory factors to the Kirkton Bridge accident.
“Works carried out this year to improve the A7 trunk route include the construction of pedestrian improvements and crossing facilities to the north of Hawick at Guthrie Drive and new carriageway construction to improve the road surface to the south of Hawick,” said Mr Yousaf.
“Other safety measures include the A7 route accident reduction plan, which is programmed for construction in October or November and comprises the introduction of safety improvement measures at a number of bends along the route.
“These measures will provide a consistent message which will alert drivers to different layouts of each of the bends and will include signage, road markings and surfacing as appropriate.”
The package has been drawn up by Transport Scotland, the organisation with responsibility for all Scottish trunk roads, after consultation with the A7 Action Group, which has been campaigning for improvements to the Edinburgh-Carlisle route since 1990.
Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for roads and infrastructure and also a member of the A7 Action Group, has welcomed the £240,000 programme.
“Transport Scotland recognises that investment is required on the A7 and this is good news,” he said.
The A7 north of Galashiels was de-trunked in 1996.
Announcing his response in January to an action plan drawn up by the group, Mr Yousaf said: “The programme of work being put forward will address many of the issues brought forward by the A7 Action Group, and our commitment to the A7 is ongoing.
“Our annual maintenance programme, which has seen investment of more than £23m since 2007, continues, and the A7 is reviewed annually to establish where safety improvements can be made.
“Transport Scotland will be holding further discussions with the A7 Action Group on progress to make sure that it is kept fully up to date and that representatives are given the opportunity to raise any concerns.
“The initial work for the Borders transport corridors study is getting under way to examine the case for extending the Borders Railway, along with improvements to the A1, A7 and A68, with emerging findings to be reported by the end of 2017.”