Choked roads bring frustration and confusion for local motorists

Bonhill Road in Dumbarton where traffic chaos reigns in an ongoing basis.

Words and pictures by Bill Heaney

What can you expect for £2 million? It looked fantastic at the time, but the work on installing the Bonhill Road- Strathleven Place railway bridge has turned out to be a disaster.

The civil engineering company who carried out the expensive project to replace the old bridge 200 yards from Dumbarton Central Station got their mathematical calculations wrong.

And it has been discovered that the bridge was installed to the wrong height, about five centimetres higher than it should have been.

Which means that services on this busy mainline railway which runs from Balloch to Glasgow and Helensburgh to Edinburgh are still being interrupted and even cancelled altogether – and that a speed limit has been imposed on the track running across this new bridge.

This week chaos, an oft used work in Dumbarton these days, returned when a team of civil engineers in orange overalls came back to correct their significant error.

Five centimetres sounds a little but it’s a lot when you are talking about a railway line carrying trains full of passengers.

A bumpy ride could suddenly turn into a disaster involving injury and loss of life.

However, Network Rail seem to have recognised the danger and have moved quickly to put a speed limit on the line to keep it safe.

Everyone makes mistakes. There is a saying that a man who never made a mistake never made a discovery. That what went wrong this time will be corrected in order that it never happens again.

The people have not seemed to learn from this however are, wait for it, West Dunbartonshire Council.

Having seen the traffic chaos that resulted from the initial work on the railway bridges, one would have thought that they would have learned from that.

That they would have a schedule of where and when road works take place and would organise matters in a manner which benefit the motorists, bus and heavy vehicle drivers attempting to make their way through our towns and villages.

Not a chance, however. I heard someone say these highly paid officials could not put a nut in a monkey’s mouth, and I have the feeling their criticism is not wide of the mark.

Baillie Jackie MSP fishing
Jackie Baillie MSP

Dumbarton and Lomond MSP, Jackie Baillie, is furious with the Council whose Roads Department is now merged with Inverclyde’s.

Things have got worse here, not better, and terrible state of the carriageways over the Erskine Bridge is a warning of things to come for summertime and the heavy traffic that will come with it.

She said when the news of the bridge fault leaked out: “It is disappointing that following weeks of disruption in October, when the Bridge was being replaced, there is even more disruption now for residents and passengers who will have to suffer yet more works at Bonhill Road Rail Bridge.

“ Network Rail should be trying to claim back money from AMCO Giffen, the contractor, to ensure that the public purse is compensated for their error.”

Like many Dumbarton people, I was impressed by the AMCO Giffen operation and wrote this when it was completed first time around:

So there you have it. The railway bridge at Strathleven Place/Bonhill Road has been replaced overnight with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of efficiency. People came from miles around to see this historic piece of civil engineering work being carried out in Dumbarton at the weekend. Local people have expressed disappointment about the loss and lopping of lime trees on Dumbarton Common, lack of notice of this work being carried out and about the diversion signs and re-routing of motor traffic and pedestrian pathways not being adequate. However, this has been offset to some degree by the efficiency of the work done to replace the bridge by Network Rail’s contractors AMCO Giffen

There are no details yet of what plans Network Rail have to move back on to the job at bridge in Strathleven Place/Bonhill Road.

The works in October last year caused a significant amount of disruption and more will soon be on the way, once again taking up a large yard space on Dumbarton Common.

Residents, particularly those on Meadow Road, Bonhill Road, Strathleven Place and Pointfauld Terrace are be worst hit by traffic chaos and confusion.

They have also still having to suffer from closure of Station Road and the traffic being diverted off the Church Street roundabout.

Then there’s Greenhead Road and Glasgow Road … [fill in your own choked street names here].

This time they are hoping the civil engineers will liaise with the local council to make things easier for them. 


Pictures by Jim Crosthwaite and Alan Ruine



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