A MAJOR commuter link through Dalkeith will be shut until next year in a growing nightmare for residents, with the repair bill rising to almost £2 million.
Inspections have confirmed that a landslip which led to severe cracks in a section of the Old Dalkeith Road, linking Dalkeith to the Capital, are worse than first thought.
The road, which has been closed since last year, is now not expected to re-open until as late as March next year – up to six months behind schedule.
Bonnyrigg contractor Crummock started construction works at the site earlier this month, having carried out inspections on the damaged road from late January.
A target of autumn to finish the repair works had been set back in March. It is now the second time the completion date for the road repair has been pushed back.
The announcement is set to continue ongoing headaches for residents on Lugton Brae, which is being used as a traffic diversion.
A 20mph temporary speed limit has been introduced on the diversion route along with a ban on heavy goods vehicles.
But Midlothian Dental Practice owner Calum Jack said the restrictions had not deterred motorists from using the minor road as a speedway. The closed stretch of Old Dalkeith Road was used by an estimated 10,000 motorists a day.
Mr Jack said: “Lugton Brae has been opened up to become almost a main road. HGV drivers don’t seem to be taking into account the restrictions on it and people don’t seem to be abiding by the speed limit.
“The [nearby] works seem to have taken an inordinate amount of time. Site investigations were carried out on two or three separate occasions. It seemed to take a while to determine exactly how bad it was going to be.
“But they’ve started work now, so hopefully they’ll finish.”
Villagers have reported double-decker buses also using the diversion route.
Extreme weather conditions, potential mine workings and long-term ground movement have all been put forward as possible causes of the deep underground slip on Old Dalkeith Road.
Dalkeith councillor Alex Bennett said: “This should have been addressed a long time ago. I first noticed the cracks on that road because I pass through it every day. You could see it happening from a year ago. There’s just no urgency.”
Midlothian Council leader Bob Constable said: “The work is programmed to take 40 weeks, but it is hoped we can have the road open sooner.
“We realise this has been a long and difficult process and we can’t thank residents and motorists enough for their continued patience.”
Pedestrians and cyclists are still able to access the road despite the route being shut off to motorists. A bus stop for passengers heading towards Edinburgh has been set up in Lugton.