The first road closures to allow St Andrews University to lay a pipeline between its Guardbridge energy centre and St Andrews will start as early as next week.
The work will affect the A91 and will see drivers heading in to St Andrews using the Old Guardbridge Road from Strathtyrum, while the drivers heading west will remain on the A91, where one carriageway will be closed the work is expected to last from January 4 until February 26.
Also in February, the university’s work will see A919 in Guardbridge closed from mid-month until April 8.
That will mean diversions through Balmullo, adding an extra 7.5 miles to journeys north of St Andrews and south of St Michaels.
Local communities are unhappy about the road closures – Strathkinness Community Council has already expressed fears that the town will become a rat run for motorists trying to avoide the road closures.
But it is the people of Guardbridge who will feel the impact most.
Residents are feeling “sheer frustration” according to community council chairman Elspeth Paterson, with parking and access to their homes the main concern for the village’s 600-plus residents: “People find it very difficult to understand why the road is going to have to be closed for so long,” she said.
“There are a lot of people who are concerned at the amount it is going cost them in hard cash.”
Ms Paterson said of the university: “They can’t seem to get down to the basics of where people are going to put their vehicles safely at night.
“I feel that some people, somewhere, just don’t care, and that is what I am getting from the community – no one seems to be caring about individuals.”
Ms Paterson also runs a newsagents and general store in the Guardbridge and she fears for the future of her business.
“I did a straw poll of my customers when this was first announced, and 95 per cent of my business is passing trade. I see myself as not having a business come April,” she commented.
Ms Paterson will be asking the university if accommodation could be available for her to take delivery of newspapers each day and prepare them for delivery to customers.
A spokesman for St Andrews University told the Citizen: “We are consulting fully with communities in and around Guardbridge on the Green Energy Centre and the impact of the road closure at Guardbridge in February. We have met with over 400 people at engagement events as well as businesses in Guardbridge and elsewhere. We know that in the short term this will cause considerable disruption to residents, local businesses and commuters and we are committed to ensuring local people are fully informed.”
Bus services will also be hit by the long closure of the road, and Douglas Robertson, commercial director for Stagecoach East Scotland said: “We are currently working closely with the University of St Andrews to compile a comprehensive plan of alternative travel arrangements for the period of closure affecting Guardbridge.
“It is our aim to ensure that all connecting journeys are still possible in the area, between our network of existing services, rail services and temporary arrangements and our proposals will be communicated in the new year when finalised.”
The £25 million green energy centre at Guardbridge’s former paper mill will produce heat for university buildings.