While Galloway drivers rage about the state of the A75 and the A77, the man responsible, Scottish Government transport minister Humza Yousaf, decided to bypass a public meeting this week organised to hear their concerns.
Elected members at the Wigtown Area Committee community meeting on Wednesday at the Douglas Ewart High School in Newton Stewart – called to discuss transport issues – noted that this vital link in the information chain was missing.
Transport Scotland officials David Allan and Steven Davis, plus Michael Pagan from Scotland Transerv, answered the questions posed, but, as Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes noted: “We need the transport minister here to tell him about the palpable frustrations of the people here.
“With the greatest respect to the representatives here, they don’t make policy. They do the best they can with the budget they are given by the Scottish Government.”
About 30 members of the public attended to complain about the condition of both trunk roads, the lack of overtaking opportunities, the three-year siting of temporary traffic lights north of Cairnryan on the A77, restricted speed limits and poor visibility on the A75, road closures leading to diversions on unsuitable minor roads and the threat by timber companies to increase HGV traffic on the roads.
A Maybole resident produced a map of Scotland’s main routes and pointed out that in the entire network you could drive from east to west and north to south without hitting a 30mph limit until Minishant. But from Minishant to Stranraer there were eight. He pointedly asked the transport officers when exactly the Maybole bypass would happen and the A77 upgraded?
David Allan explained that they were restricted by the budget they were given by the Scottish Government and insisted there was no policy of favouring one trunk road over another, and the design work was under way for the bypass at Maybole.
With regard to the ongoing work to mitigate landslides north of Carinryan, Mr Allan said: “The nature of the landslip is very challenging as it’s a very steep slope so the work is taking longer then anticipated. We are working on a solution and we will come back to the community about this. It is costing a considerable amount of money, but it is a priority.”
Diverting traffic onto the Girvan-Barrhill-Newton Stewart road was another gripe, but Mr Allan said due to geography, this was “the best worst option”.
Stranraer councillor Willie Scobie called for Dumfries and Galloway Council to link up with South Ayrshire Council to present an economic impact assessment to the government. “That’s how the A9 got upgraded”, he added.