The road to nowhere?

From its junction with Westport, Mousebank Road wends its way down past the River Mouse and all the way back up out of the valley again, to join either the A73 via Cartland Village or to join the A 721 via Kilncadzow. I am now resident in the last house (my son’s) before the road crosses the River Mouse and terminates its association with the Royal Burgh.

It has oft occurred to me, as I lie abed of an evening pondering great matters of state, that I sleep dangerously close to the Marches of our Royal Burgh and, should the frequently raging torrent below ever initiate erosion on the riverbank, I could end up taking a very wet tour of the Marches, at least as far as the Clyde below Cartland Crags.

So, I know Mousebank Road here to be a little-travelled road for the most part, but it nevertheless has a vital role to play in the in the overall traffic management in, around, and through Lanark, and so it is always maintained in good condition by South Lanarkshire Council’s roads department, including gritting and snow-clearance in winter. There is a very good reason for this.

Should there ever be a blockage on the A73 trunk road between Lee Woods and Steels Cross, Mousebank Road is immediately promoted to be the substitute A73 trunk road, and for this reason it is always maintained in good nick. Doing so is relatively easy, given that normally there is very little traffic between Cartland Village and Ridgepark School.

From Ridgepark School to the Westport Junction however, it was until recently a very different story. Thanks to the housing estates that have developed on either side of Mousebank Road and the consequent steady pounding of cars, vans, delivery trucks and tractors, the condition of the Mousebank Road and the adjacent streets went remorselessly downhill.

At every meeting of the Town Group, Doctor Groves (a member of the Town Group elected to represent our Civic Trust, a resident of in Mousebank Road area, and often seen hirpling warily along its pavements) would consistently complain about the condition of the road and footpaths and was eventually rewarded by being assured that repairs were earmarked for the spring of 2017.

And, incredibly for once, as it was promised, so it was done. Mousebank Road and its surrounds underwent a makeover in May this year and, after a brief flurry of inconvenience for residents and complaints from non-residents whose own streets had suddenly become busier because of the detours imposed, Mousebank Road emerged as new. But it was too good to last.

South Lanarkshire Council had done a magnificent job, but neither they nor the electorate are able to control or stop the forces of the evil empire – with the sleek and splendid road surface less than a month old, the gas board, water board and telecoms firms struck again!

Suddenly and without warning, one of the trinity had blown a big hole in the newly-surfaced Mousebank Road, right at its junction with Westport.

This junction is now the recipient of a very complicated traffic-light signalling system and creates so many traffic tail-backs in the town centre.

At least, if there is a gas leak, they can smell the stuff and, with luck and provided they are not covered in copious quantities of aftershave, find the leak before they are pass out. BT know as soon as there is a problem, because nobody can get through to them to complain! The water board will restore the road surface after (if) they find and repair the leak of course, but the road repair will follow the usual sequence.

It’ll be like a big speed-bump or a small hillock to start with and for a while, because they need to allow for “settlement” of the disturbed earth in the hole. They will not have done the calculations accurately, because they forgot they forgot the earth was wet when it came out and dry when they put it back in, and when it finally settles, it will settle too much and we will then have the usual a big bowl-like indentation in Mousebank Road.

As soon as you see Doctor Grove limping along on crutches to the next Town Group meeting, you will know we are back where we started!


Frank Gunning shares his views on various local issues in his Let's Be Frank column.