Several shops and businesses in Market Street in St Andrews - one of the busiest shopping areas in the town centre - are experiencing a marked downturn in trade and are blaming the current upgrading project.
The street is at present closed off to all traffic and is likely to remain so for almost another 10 days, as work continues on the £1.5 million improvements’ contract.
While members of St Andrews Merchants’ Association are trying to get the message across to the public that the town centre is “still open for business,” there is clear evidence that there are fewer shoppers and visitors.
Unfortunately, ongoing problems with the foul drainage has required the construction of three additional inspection chambers on to the main drain so that Scottish Water can clean the vast accumulation of debris from inside the pipe, it has emerged.
This, say Fife Council, will avoid the thoroughfare having to be dug up again once the current contract is completed and the new tarmac surface laid.
The first phase of the road closure programme from Church Street to Union Street began on June 20 and was completed on July 7.
Fife Council engineer Cameron Dickson told the Citizen: ”This involved installing the first of the three manholes to help with the ongoing problem of blockages in the sewer on Market Street.
‘‘Scottish Water arrived and cleaned out the sewer at that manhole after we exposed it.”
The second phase of the road closure between Bell Street and Church Street began more than a week ago to allow the construction of the second and third manholes in Market Street and this section is expected to be complete by July 24.
Mr Dickson added: ”Work on the street itself is progressing well and the reclaimed whin stone setts are being relaid. There isn’t enough reclaimed material to re-lay the whole street, so these are being mixed with silver/grey granite setts.
“Historic features are being retained and can be seen at the east end of the site and around the Whyte Melville Fountain.”
The works’ programme will halt temporarily around July 30 for two weeks to allow the annual Lammas Market street fair to take place as usual from August 4-9.
“I would like to stress that all the shops are open as usual and an alternative parking map has been produced to show people where to park in St Andrews to still get close access to Market Street and the surrounding shops,” he added.
This can be viewed at www.fifedirect.org.uk/marketstreet along with other information about the roadworks.
Meanwhile, Lindsey Adam, president of the Merchants’ Association, said: ”The association has had complaints from members about a loss of trade, with the shops and businesses which are behind the barriers being the worst affected.
“However, there is also a feeling that the general footfall is down and not only in Market Street, but in other parts of the town. It is unclear whether that is because of the roadworks or the lack of parking. However, it is important that we get the message across that St Andrews is still open for business.”
The long awaited programme in Market Street got under way in September of 2010 and the contract was contracted to run for a year.
However, according to Ms Adam, it is running at least one month behind schedule.
The pavements have been made up of new Caithness flag stones and there will be new crisp granite kerbs and channels, while all historic markings on the street are being maintained.
The project is being funded by Fife Council’s transportation services and the conceptual design was carried out by Ironside Farrar Consultants, while the work is being carried out by T&N Gilmartin Contractors of Cupar.
The new streetscape is intended to reduce congestion on the road and footpaths and to bring Market Street up to the same high standard as the rest of the town.
Power supplies are being added to be used for various markets, including the Lammas Market, and new street furniture will include 18 new cycle racks, timber benches and new bins.