TRANSPORT bosses have bowed to pressure to reopen a country road in Midlothian instead of sending motorists on a 1.7-mile diversion.
A major section of the A6106 Old Dalkeith Road was closed after a series of mystery cracks running along a 100ft stretch emerged two months ago, followed by fears that the road was subsiding.
Motorists started cutting through Lugton Brae, a quiet road populated by a handful of homes, as an unofficial diversion before complaints from residents saw it being closed. Commuters were instead sent on a twisting diversion through residential streets in Eskbank.
With the A6106 set to close until April, the Evening News revealed last month that the long detour could cost the thousands of motorists who use the key route into Dalkeith an extra £480,000.
Today, it emerged the local authority has reversed the decision after admitting the long detour through Melville Gate Road had caused an increase in congestion and the potential for accidents.
Bob Constable, the council cabinet member with responsibility for roads, said: “We feel, given the timescales regarding the repairs, that we can’t let this situation go on much longer.
“We realise there’s traffic build-up on the diversion at peak times, but we’re also aware that residents in Lugton Brae have complained of drivers speeding along that road.
“To try and get round all these concerns, we think the best solution is to reopen Lugton Brae but to make sure sensible speed limits and flashing signs are in place.”
Around 10,000 vehicles pass along the A6106 Old Dalkeith Road each day and the diversions have also had a major impact in the Eskbank area.
Firms in north Dalkeith, which was largely cut off due to the detour, had also complained of a loss in business.
Gordon Close, principal dealer at the Dalkeith Ford Centre, said his firm had seen a significant slump in sales due to a reduction in passing trade.
He said: “The month hasn’t done our business any good whatsoever. We’re hopeful that the lift might put things back to normal.
“Another thing is the transport people haven’t installed the proper signs to explain what is going on. We were getting calls from customers who have got lost and I know the firms on the [Grannies Park] industrial estate have as well.
“The taxi trade has been frustrated as well because they keep getting lost.”
As part of the reopening of Lugton Brae, scheduled for Monday, the local authority said it will introduce a 20mph speed limit and ban HGVs.