Hospital junction to be improved

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Road safety improvements to be made to the junction at the Borders General Hospital should be decided on by the end of March and the work carried out next financial year.

Transport Scotland was asked to look at improving the junction by the chairman of NHS Borders, the leader of Scottish Borders Council and regional politicians all concerned about the ongoing accident record of the junction on the A6091 Melrose bypass.

Council leader David Parker and NHS Borders chairman John Raine this week welcomed an update on the progress of works being considered to improve the safety of the junction.

Transport Scotland has confirmed that its preferred approach would be to install traffic signals at the junction and reduce the speed limit on the A6091.

Investigations are taking place to ensure that the signals will operate successfully and all the necessary changes to the junction and the A6091 can be accommodated.

Transport Scotland will start consultation about the preferred design with stakeholders this month, with final agreement coming on the confirmed layout, and changes to be made, by the end of March.

NHS Borders will also carry out improvements to the hospital entrance alongside the council, which will make improvements to the road near the junction to support the new scheme.

Leaderdale and Melrose councillor Mr Parker said: “From the draft layouts I have seen, if all the investigations reach a positive conclusion, a very significant scheme will be put in place that will hopefully prevent the accidents and many near misses that take place.

“Although traffic signals are the preferred option, other solutions, such as a roundabout, were carefully considered but have all been deemed unworkable for very sound reasons.”

Mr Raine added: “It is clear that the difficulties at the hospital junction have been taken seriously, and the proposals which are emerging are a very welcome step forward in the right direction.

“It is an unwelcome irony that there is a perceived accident blackspot outside the region’s main hospital.

“Staff and visitors to the hospital have consistently raised concerns about the junction’s safety over many years, and I am sure that many people will welcome proposed improvements.”