Steels Cross lights would signal even more trouble for motorists

The flow of traffic from Cartland Bridge to Hyndford Road has been a problem in Lanark for years.

In the good old days when Lanark was able to hold horse racing, the police took control of traffic control at Steel’s Cross and the top of the High Street. The rest of the year things were never too bad..

Traffic light control at the top of the High Street was introduced in the early 1970s. This slowed the flow significantly. In the 1990s the opening of the ‘Tesco through road’ introduced traffic lights at the junction of Kildare Road and St Leonard Street.

The Safeway development, now Morrisons, saw another set of lights to allow pedestrians to cross Ladyacre Road. Lights were also introduced in the Bloomgate for pedestrians.

The High Street was modernised with the infamous streetscape project introducing yet another control of traffic halfway up. The parallel flow of traffic was reduced to a single lane while the pavement was made wider to improve pedestrian flow.

Add a set of temporary lights to allow road workers to operate safely is a good idea, but this added resistance to flow is often the last straw giving us long queues down Kirkfieldbank, and also back to the Cartland Bridge itself. Traffic trying to get down the High Street suffers the same problem.

Lanark quickly becomes a no go area for visitors, and is a huge body blow for the shops and others who learn customers who want to support the traders just cannot be bothered by the hassle!

Who has been responsible for this madness? It falls to the Council and our elected councillors.

It is with great dismay that I learn at the time of writing yet another resistor is to be inserted in the route. It appears that traffic lights are to be installed at Steels Cross!

To have the possibility to be stopped five times on the route plus the possibility of a further stop for someone trying to park in the High Street appears just crazy!

Traffic light control causes delays. It is frustrating to be waiting for the lights to change when the junction is empty. We have all seen it.

Roundabouts avoid this nonsense. The busier road tends to get priority, less busy roads fit in and the whole thing works fine. Approaching a roundabout requires you to look right only. At the present time at Steels Cross you have to watch right and left, and that takes time! Roundabouts aid traffic flow at junctions, traffic lights slow it down.

Anyone driving to Lanark from Forth will find seamless flow through Harelaw roundabout. Hit the Cleghorn level crossing and the flow of traffic can be held up for sometimes 20 minutes. This allows high speed trains to travel unimpeded at high speeds. The problem arises when the Lanark train arrives! Its flow is more important than traffic flow. Is this fair?

Lanark town centre needs all the traffic we can get in. Curious why the Council put up opposition to this. Other towns can do this, why add to our problems?

A possible answer is the final decision falls to the elected members. Some are not of a retail background, a scientific nor an engineering one. They rely on advice from officials whose opinions they are not equipped to challenge.

When we had a town council in charge of local issues we had a Burgh surveyor. Dugald McDonald was and engineer who held that role for many years till the Burgh Council was disbanded in 1974. The replacement was Lanark District Council. No Burgh surveyor now.

Dugald became a councillor and advocated a roundabout at the Steels Cross. The Council took on board his plans to abolish the lights at Oxfam, making St Leonard Street one way up and Bannatyne Street one way down.  This would allow an improvement in traffic flow through the town. His scheme was put on the forward plan but his engineering knowledge was forgotten, and Dugald ‘s magic roundabout is still to happen!

It would be good if our councillors could explain their reasoning. Did they consult anyone on this? Will we ever know?