It’s taken nine months, £1.6 million, a lot of upheaval and not a little controversy ... but at last the end is in sight for Cupar’s road improvement scheme.
Fife Council confirmed this week that the final phase of the project - the repositioning of the entrance to Fluthers car park - is well under way and the roadworks will be completed on time and within budget.
And despite the inconvenience of the last few months, the scheme has been pronounced a resounding success.
Congestion in the town centre is a thing of the past and traffic is flowing freely at the eastern end of Cupar, once the scene of long tailbacks.
Now the local business association, ABCD, is launching a campaign to promote the town centre retailers whose business was affected during the project.
Commented Councillor Karen Marjoram: “The use of roundabouts in the design of the new road layout has allowed traffic to flow much better; the Bonnygate no longer features stationary traffic and this will hopefully result in improvements in air quality in this previous ‘problem area’.
“I have had positive comments from a number of ‘tourists’ from other parts of Fife and Scotland who have noticed the difference in the time to pass through the town.”
She continued: “I am pleased that areas such as the Crossgate now give more space for people to meet. I now hope any difficulties that the retail sector has experienced during the actual works will dissipate, and that more people will start shopping locally.”
The Council came under fire from some town centre traders last December when much of the Crossgate was dug up, leading to a temporary loss of car parking spaces, disruption to bus services and difficulties accessing shops.
The disruption proved to be far greater than was envisaged and some said their Christmas trade was badly hit.
But Councillor Margaret Kennedy told the Fife Herald that, at its last meeting, ABCD had spoken ‘very positively’ about the new-look town centre.
“The roundabouts are enabling the traffic to flow with ease, drivers’ behaviour is more courteous in letting people out and the town centre seems more spacious,” she said.
“We now have a real opportunity of further promoting our town centre retail experience, which I know ABCD is in the middle of doing.”
And Councillor Bryan Poole was equally enthusiastic.
“I believe the alterations to the road network in and around the centre of Cupar have created a much better town centre environment,” he said.
“Pedestrian control over the traffic lights allows better movement of pedestrians; the re- siting of the Cross allows people to see it more easily and more safely and, at the same time, opens up the Crossgate. The replacement of the ATS garage with the two mini-roundabouts creates opportunities for the ATS site and allows the traffic in the area to flow, not least from the Burnside where journeys have been reduced substantially. All in all, a significant improvement has been brought about and people in and outwith Cupar appear to agree - the comments I’ve heard have been overwhelmingly positive.”