Avon Gorge road improvement bid agreed between Falkirk and West Lothian councils

Long awaited upgrades to the Avon Gorge have been delayed again, as a councillor warned housing developments meant work could not continue to be put off – whatever the bill to the taxpayer.
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West Lothian and Falkirk councils have committed to work on new proposals as they bid for Westminster money to upgrade road infrastructure. But the scale and complexity of the Avon Gorge work prompted both councils to agree it would be premature to seek Westminster money at the moment.

Both councils have pledged to continue working together and with Transport Scotland on a proposal, ready to seek the £50 million it is estimated to cost. The cash is part of the Westminster government’s Levelling Up funding which will replace EU money.

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Armadale councillor Stuart Borrowman pointed out that new developments in both council areas means the Gorge upgrade will have to be tackled.

He said: “It’s been an issue of concern for decades. Partly because of concerns about road safety and partly because any blockage often sees traffic redirected through Westfield.

“An engineer I know started his career doing the survey work for the new crossing over 40 years ago and retired without ever seeing it built.

“If Grangemouth industry expands or the large-scale development at Westfield goes ahead, it’ll exacerbate the problem.”

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West Lothian councillors gave their unanimous backing to the joint £15 million bid to the UK Government’s Levelling Up fund at the last meeting of the Executive before the summer break.

Picture Michael Gillen. A801 Avon Gorge.Picture Michael Gillen. A801 Avon Gorge.
Picture Michael Gillen. A801 Avon Gorge.

The bid has been submitted for the Linlithgow and East Falkirk parliamentary constituency, and the cash will be used to create an all-ways slip road on Junction 3 of the M9 and improve road alignment at Champany – an accident blackspot – in the Falkirk council area.

Linlithgow’s Councillor Tom Conn said: “I’m delighted that we have put a further application to the Levelling Up fund for the incorporation of the Burghmuir and at Champany. I think the junction at Burghmuir is part of a solution to town centre issues as well. Equality it has benefits for Falkirk. It’s joined up thinking.”

Plans previously drawn up are now 10 years old. That, along with the fact that costs have risen substantially, mean they will have to be revised.

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However Paul Kettrick, until earlier this year Estates and Properties Manager for West Lothian and now head of Invest Falkirk, lauded plans put forward to improve Junction 3 of the M9. The new access roads will have benefits for Falkirk residents as well as those in West Lothian. It will also provide a platform for joint working on a future Avon Gorge plan.