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Roads and Tracks of Ayrshire
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In 1974, local government in Scotland was reorganised into two tiers. One was Regional Councils that took over most of the functions of the County Councils and some functions of the Burgh Councils; the other was District Councils with responsibility for remaining functions. Roads became a function of Strathclyde Regional Council with a Directorate in Glasgow overseen by the Roads and Transportation Committee, with the old counties retained as Sub-Regions or Divisions. As this reorganisation is too recent to be of much interest to the reader we will deal only with major road schemes.


In 1987, improvements were made to the A71 between Moorfield and Bellfield. This gave significant savings in journey time by taking through traffic away from Kilmarnock town centre and meant there was now a dual carriageway between Kilmarnock and Irvine.


Eight new bridges were constructed, five of which carried the A71 over side roads, and one over the River Irvine. Nearly half a million cubic metres of earthworks' materials was moved when making cuttings and embankments and thousands of tons of concrete were used. The cost was £15 million. (1)


As noted, it had been proposed to build a Cumnock Bypass as early as the 1950's but it was not built until 1992. It is just under 5 miles in length and bypasses Auchinleck and Cumnock. (2) These two towns suffered considerable congestion before its opening.


Three miles farther on, a by-pass for New Cumnock had been proposed as early as the 1950's but it was never built. It would have started near the transport café at Pathhead and skirted the town alongside and to the north of the railway. Four alignments were considered for the course east of New Cumnock. It was decided to cross the Nith near the county boundary and join the present road some 2 km into Dumfriesshire. The bridge over the Nith would have had three spans and been 95 metres in length. The by-pass would have been 10.2 km in length at a cost of £6,300,000, and would have been completed in 1990. (3)


About the same time bypasses were planned for Mauchline and the towns in the Irvine Valley.


Local Government(Scotland) Act 1996

Another reorganisation of local government took place in 1996. In Ayrshire three councils were formed, viz. North, South and East Ayrshire. Whereas in Strathclyde days there had been a department of roads the new councils were too small to sustain this. As a result the roads' function was incorporated with others in departments that dealt with the wider infrastructure of the new areas.


Again this reorganisation is too recent to be of much interest to the reader but one or two points are of relevance. One is that budgets were initially very limited and the days when even a by-pass let alone a new road could be considered were gone. Major projects could only be funded by central government who had responsibility for trunk roads but even they were limited by their budgets to small scale improvements on the trunk roads.


At the same time there was a change in government policy to encourage a shift from motoring to cycling, walking and public transport, and a greater emphasis on safety, particularly of the vulnerable road user.


Whilst the funding for programmes of this type was limited it was enough to carry out sufficient small works to make a recognisable difference to the road environment. Examples are cycle lanes, pedestrian crossings, 20 mph zones, speed reduction measures near schools and in communities and enhanced facilities for bus commuters.


Funding has been made available however for an extension of the M77 into Ayrshire and a new road that will bypass Stevenston. The new motorway is to run from Floak Bridge to Fenwick where

Images produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Images reproduced with kind permission
of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

it will join the dual carriageway. The route is close to the A77. The road to Eaglesham will be closed to through vehicular traffic near Ballageich Hill but it is anticipated that it could be used as a cycle route (note: the road is still open - 2009). A major interchange is planned near Floak Bridge with the Glasgow Southern Orbital that will run to East Kilbride. Both projects will be completed in 2005.


1. Strathclyde Regional Council information leaflet

2. information leaflet produced by Scottish Development Department

3. information leaflet produced by Scottish Development Department 1986


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