Railway work is a bridge too far for Dumbarton motorists and pedestrians

The railway bridge being replaced at Strathleven Place (left) and at Townend Road (right). Pictures by Bill Heaney

The railway bridge at Dumbarton Central Station is the dirtiest, filthiest, darkest and most dangerous in Scotland.

It’s almost matched by the bridge over Strathleven Place where if you don’t find yourself dripped upon with filthy water or pigeon droppings, you get soaked by cars and buses splashing their way through deep, dirty puddles.

Dumbartonians have had to put up with this scandalous situation for decades – despite having raised the matter with successive council which were so bad that they found themselves replaced by West Dunbartonshire.

Now, you would have to be bad to be replaced by West Dunbartonshire Council. I can’t see myself getting many letters protesting about that statement.

You will, unless you inhabit the moon, have seen that work is currently taking place to rid us of those two bridges – maybe they’ll do the one at Dumbarton East next? – and that contractors have taken over the former Academy sports fields in Townend Road for a construction yard and vehicle pound.

You will also have heard the sound of chainsaws slicing the branches off trees all around the Common and even felling some perfectly healthy lime trees.

But, hey-hoe, off they go without much warning to anyone and consultation with no-one.

Bankend Road closed and trees on the Common felled and lopped of their branches.

That is what happens when uncaring local authority officials, who are allowed to do these things by uncaring councillors, don’t bother their shirt to keep the public informed.

It’s not as if the replacement of these bridges is a small project – it’s probably the biggest and most disruptive civil engineering contract to have taken place in Dumbarton since it was decided to knock down the town centre.

Few people knew it was going to happen. Rose Harvie, the community campaigner with her ear to the ground knew, but that was probably because she lives in Bonhill Road which was one of the streets earmarked for closure.

I have been away and I have also been busy, too hassled in fact to have had time to check on what information the public received about this.

But I have been impacted by it myself over the past few days when it took a freezer being delivered to the house an hour to get from Cardross Road to Roundriding Road.

I could have been to Glasgow and back by that time. The food I took out of the freezer was melting before the new one arrived.

Today I took some pictures of the bridge work taking place on the Common.

I walked from the Meadow Centre in the company of a woman from Silverton who had been heading for ASDA when she found the road under the bridge at Strathleven Place closed.

She was taking the diversion across the Common to Townend Road and under the Central Station bridge, through Strathleven Place and round Glasgow Road to the retail park.

A minor inconvenience? I don’t think so if you are a young mother with a pram and a couple of toddlers out for the messages, but here it is met with a shrug of the shoulders.

The motto on the council logo should be changed to: Too Bad! We’re all in this together.

I checked the West Dunbartonshire Council website today ( to see if there had been any notice of the chaos to come.

And advice on how motorists and pedestrians might circumvent or by-pass it.

Bridges 2

The construction camp and vehicle pound on the old Academy playing fields.

But there’s not a word about it, no diversions, no times when Townend Road will be open and shut and no times for Bonhill Road either. And none for Bankend Road or Strathleven Place.

I won’t go into any details about what Network Rail, who are the company responsible for what is happening in our midst here, have done to keep the public informed.

What I will do though is tell you what is not happening.

And that is the creation of a new, safe, clean and attractive entrance to Dumbarton Central at the old Townend Road/Church Street entrance; cleaning the place up and providing new lighting which will make the crossing there marginally less of a death trap.

There is no point in The Democrat getting in touch with the Council about this or anything else for that matter.

They reject the democratic process and refuse to extend the usual courtesies to us. We are banned and boycotted by them. We may have upset them but they have failed to tell us how.

Democracy is not their strong suit in the new £15 million and counting (what is the final cost for that anyway?) Burgh Hall.

It’s time the SNP-Tory propped up Council got on their website with a map showing the various diversions involved; roads closed and suggested routes round the traffic trouble that has beset us here.

As for Network Rail, we asked them what they intended to do about the Central Station bridge years ago.

The answer was like one of Scotrail’s trains. It took a long time coming and in the end it wasn’t very informative anyway.

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