We don’t design things to upset people

5211005 SSFF new junction 'bus having to swing out wide to traverse the new junction at the Adam Smith Centre, Kirkcaldy
5211005 SSFF new junction 'bus having to swing out wide to traverse the new junction at the Adam Smith Centre, Kirkcaldy

WE got it wrong.

Fife Council’s transport boss admitted to councillors this week that mistakes were made at the new Adam Smith junction in Kirkcaldy.

But Bob McLellan said the ‘tide has now turned’ and assured local members that the new road layout is now working properly.

Mr McLellan made the comments at yesterday’s meeting of the Kirkcaldy Area Committee in the Town House when transportation and environmental services delivered a report on the matter.

The project has been the subject of huge criticism since the roundabout outside the theatre was replaced by traffic lights shortly before Christmas.

Since the lights became operational, Fife Council has come under sustained attack after drivers faced lengthy delays, traffic jams and neighbouring streets were transformed into rat runs for motorists trying to avoid the junction.

But after a private consultant was drafted in to monitor the traffic flow and the timings were adjusted, the Council is now confident the right balance has been struck for drivers and pedestrians.

Mr McLellan told members: “We had planned to get the lights put in before Christmas but there were delays in the job. We needed electricity to power the lights and we were let down by our electricity supplier.

‘‘As a result we didn’t have the system working before Christmas which wasn’t ideal. We did have a lot of negative comments from the public, quite rightly, and we do listen to them.

“We are not in the business of designing things to upset people - it is done to make improvements.

‘’ We were surprised to find 1500 pedestrians using the junction.

‘’Before we did this work, they just had to take a chance when crossing the road, now they can cross more safely.”

He said initially there were concerns from Stagecoach about their buses being able to make the tighter turnings, but he said the company is now satisfied with the modifications made.

Criticism

He added: “The criticism we had initially was justified but we had to give it time to bed in and work and it is now working properly.”

Councillor George Kay said the apology was welcomed but said the elected members also had to make an apology.

He said: “We should apologise as councillors for the problems as well as the officers.

‘‘We have to be aware of projects that do take years to come to fruition to make sure we are au fait with what’s going on. We have to look at the lessons that need to be learned here.”

Councillor Neil Crooks said: “I am glad to hear an apology and I appreciate it takes time for things to settle down and for improvements to be made. The biggest criticism I have is the planning of it. If the junction was wider a lot of these problems would disappear. This upset a lot of people and I realise that wasn’t the intention.

‘‘But I do think the junction should be widened and the stop lines should be moved back to increase the turning circle for drivers coming on to it.”

Support

Councillors David Torrance and Susan Leslie said they had received letters of support for the new traffic lights from pedestrians who were now finding it easier to cross the road.

But councillor David Ross told members he still had concerns: “Things are bedding in but people are just putting up with it.

‘‘Drivers are using the side roads to avoid the junction and it is discouraging people from coming into the town.

‘‘We need to look again at where the road has been narrowed too much.”

Councillor Alice Soper said it was important to make sure proper planning is done to ensure utility companies carry out work on time and to make sure signage is in place to warn people of changes to road layouts.

Councillor Crooks asked if the kerbstones could be painted white so they are more visible.

Tim Masters, Council lead officer with asset management and projects, said they were looking at various options so that any outstanding issues could be resolved.