Long road to progress on 'forgotten' A76

I WAS pleased to receive an assurance that traffic lights which have caused hold-ups on the A76 north of Kirkconnel for more than a year should be removed in May.

Travellers on the trunk route have been irritated by delays since the 'temporary' measure was introduced after accident damage on January 14 last year.

The lights near Marchburn were raised with me by frequent users of the road as are issues along the full length of the route in Nithsdale.  

Indeed, visitors to the area find it hard to believe, judging by the obvious lack of investment down the years, that the route has the status of a Scottish Government - controlled national trunk route.

Not surprisingly, I regularly raise the A76 at Holyrood and most recently lodged a question about the Marchburn lights.

In a written reply, Scottish Transport Minister Michael Matheson explained that the 50 metres safety barrier was demolished in the accident.

He stated the repairs delay was 'due to difficulties in the design process.'

Mr Matheson told me: "Replacing the damaged barrier with a like for like replacement is not possible due to the ground conditions and the presence of public utility apparatus which were laid after the current barrier was installed. 

"As such, the design of a new barrier system which complies with required standards has been challenging." 

He did, however, confirm investigations were completed, design work could progress with construction beginning by late spring.

I welcome the news but would like to see actual shovels in the ground.

As can be seen south of Sanquhar there were several years of costly 'temporary' lights at Enterkinfoot before significant work to deal with a landslip recently began on site.

Like many of my constituents in Mid and Upper Nithsdale, I believe the accident-prone A76 is Scotland's forgotten trunk route and requires substantial investment. 

Sadly, there are rarely swift solutions to problems on this busy road.