THE Ettrick Valley faces the prospect of five months of traffic disruption this spring, writes Kenny Paterson.
Martin’s Bridge on the B711 road, which links the valley with Hawick, is set to be shut for 10 weeks from the beginning of April by Scottish Borders Council in order to strengthen the 200-year-old structure.
The bridge will then be reduced to single lane with temporary traffic lights for a further 10 weeks.
The work is needed ahead of vehicles carrying heavy loads for the new Langhope Rig wind farm between Ashkirk and Ettrickbridge.
The repairs mean a 25-mile diversion through the Ettrick Valley via the B711 to Tushielaw; along the B7009 through the valley to Selkirk; and finally on the A7 to Hawick to get back to Martin’s Bridge.
Residents of Borthwick Valley village Roberton, which will be worst affected by the closure which cuts them off from nearby Hawick, estimate 100 residents a day will be forced to follow the lengthy alternative route, as well as hauliers delivering animal feed to farmers.
The cost of the bridge repairs is estimated to be £480,000, split between the council and SSE Renewables, the firm behind the 10-turbine Langhope Rig development.
A spokesperson for SSE Renewables said: “Feedback from those who attended the consultation events suggested that the community preferred the closure of the B711 road at Martin’s Bridge to start in April to avoid busy transport periods for local farmers.
“Both SSE and Scottish Borders Council are keen to work with the local community during the works to minimise disruption and keep the community informed during this period.”
The local authority’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, said repairs to improve local roads in the vicinity of Martin’s Bridge will be carried out before the main works in April.
He added: “The council has also recognised that during the closure of the road, locals will use some minor routes as alternatives to the more lengthy official diversion route.”