You know, Shakespeare was right when he wrote of folk having a winter of discontent or, in the case of an old advertising slogan for a January sale at Black’s of Greenock – Now is the winter of our discount tent! That’s the way it is with me, no joke too corny, no pun too awful, there’s no cure for it as far as I know.
Anyway, down to business; there appears to be a growing number of Borderers getting ever restless at the horrible state of the A 7 road, and I for one don’t blame them for that.
Needless to say every man and his dog has a portfolio of theories and plans for revamping the A7 into what they dream of as safer route for motorists and other traffic.
Just about all their master plans founder at an early stage when the small matter of money is raised. Just to offer a small example of the rocketing costs in road building, take a brief look at the sums quoted for the much opposed bypass route for Aberdeen, up there in the land of Trump.
That route will be comparatively short, although few can contradict claims of how much really nice countryside it will trash or how many communities will be living next to a major road, which might be seen as geek heaven for Eddie Stobart spotters, but hell on earth for just about everyone else. Set that against the truly disgraceful traffic problems in the Granite City and you have the basis for a good going argument.
Our A7 route is a tourist’s dream – something we should do more to sell, given so many holidaymakers think Scotland begins at Edinburgh. The road blends into the landscape so well I sometimes wonder if we really appreciate what effect blasting a dual carriageway from point A to point B would have.
And that is really the essence of the case with any ideas about improvements to the A7 .
From the English Border and northwards to Embra, there are few sections of this highway that come anywhere near the standards expected in the 21st century, so no matter what piecemeal improvements might be envisaged by some folk, the only realistic solution is to sort the whole lot in a wunner.
To achieve this road engineering miracle would require massive funding which just ain’t going to happen in a country witnessing the daily leeching of Scottish industry as it bails out to places not likely to be affected too much if McPuddock and his golf-loving cronies get lucky in 2014.
Now let us all drift off into the fairyland of a Scotland where money is no object, with cash available up front to buy all the things the Scottish government include every year at this time when they write to Santa.
No matter which way you look at the situation, the A7 is still going to be at the bottom of the list, well below those parts of the land where a certain nationalistically inclined political party holds sway, who, of course, will have there own list of projects.
I note that certain of those projects are deemed to be “shovel ready”, a term which appears to have little or no meaning to anyone still clinging to the remnants of what we were once pleased to call the Queen’s English.
Quite what Brenda makes of the babbled patois commonly used in the UK these days is not a matter of public information, but one can guess fairly accurately what it might be. However, at a somewhat random guess, I think it suggests there are a significant number of planned financial black holes, said by some to be available for a start around 9am on Monday next, although I don’t believe a word they say, and never have.
Those who yearn for A7 improvements should be careful what they wish for. The amount of our countryside that would vanish under tarmac and concrete does not bear thinking about, and I suspect could only be accomplished by a great deal of compulsory purchase, a process that takes forever. Consider,too, a possible side effect in that a fast stripe of road from south to north would effectively bisect the area and inhibit movement on an east to west basis, bring with it a whole new set of difficulties.
As we all know the principle reason for the campaign to improve the A7 is road safety, and although the accident record on this road makes pretty glum reading, a little thought suggests it is not actually the road that causes the accidents, it is the conduct of those who drive on it.
The A7 boasts a number of good people who drive it every day; they have learned to read this road and its funny little ways and know what to do and expect. They are safe from themselves but, of course, vulnerable to the idiot faction without whom no road scenario is complete. Thus it is no amount of road improvements that will spare sensible drivers from the actions of the bad drivers. What will happen will be an overall decrease in journey times, which in turn means fewer accidents, but when they occur they will be made worse by the higher speeds of the vehicles involved – and more people will die; it’s as simple as that.
Taken in the round, improving the enforcement of existing road traffic laws is dirt cheap compared with major road building schemes.
The much- hated speed cameras work well and dare one suggest the accident rate on the A 7 is in part due to drivers with a heavy right foot avoiding the A68 because the cameras spoil their fun.
There was a time when the A9 road was a killer, but after every major accident the cops would have a crack down and for as long as that lasted drivers were more cautious and the accident rate fell accordingly.
It is a sad fact that many of those pressing for changes to the A 7 route have lives blighted by a road-related tragedy. Their passion for improvements to this road is well placed and will hopefully act as a catalyst for action, but they should be careful about what they wish for, as in this issue the matter is less than clear cut.
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Weather for Selkirk
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North