FOLK used to bottlenecks in Maybole were queuing at the Carrick Centre last week to have their say on bypass plans.
Transport Scotland representatives, and those from consulting engineers, Amey, exhibited their preferred route for the A77 bypass at Maybole to local residents on Friday.
While a Maybole bypass has been talked about for decades, plans have never got as far as a public exhibition. And more than 300 people turned out to get a first look.
The proposals on show were for a 5.2kilometre bypass to the north of Maybole, connecting to the existing A77 by way of roundabouts to the southwest and northeast of the town.
Estimated to cost around £27million, the design - which was selected from at least nine different routes - will consist of a single carriageway with climbing lanes following the north side of the Glasgow to Stranraer railway line.
Beginning to the southwest of Maybole, where it will divert from the existing A77 at a roundabout, the bypass will continue northwards to a second roundabout at the junction with the B7023 Culzean Road - with a northbound climbing lane of 870metres between the two.
The route will then cross Gardenrose Path, Kirklandhill Path, and the B7024 Alloway Road - all of which will pass over or under the bypass by means of bridge crossings.
The bypass will then continue to follow the railway line before rejoining the A77 at a new roundabout north of Smithston Bridge. Two separate climbing lanes of 720m and 900m in length will be provided southbound along the route.
Peter Mason (pictured below left, second from right), former chairman of the bypass committee, said he was delighted at the display, describing it as “a massive leap” towards getting the bypass.
“To the people who supported the bypass through what appeared to be years in the wilderness all I can say is well done, your support was unyielding and your commitment to the bypass relentless,” he said.
Community Council chairman Mark Fletcher (pictured below left, second from left) agreed, and said a bypass for Maybole would pave the way for even more developments in the town.
“It is a good stepping stone,” he said. “It would open up a lot more things for Maybole to explore, because a lot of what has been holding us up is the bypass. It is a great catalyst for Maybole, which can now be planning for its future.”
The exhibition of plans also attracted Government attention as, little over a year since he visited Maybole for a taste for life on either side of the A77, Transport Minister Keith Brown came back to the Carrick town for a look at its future.
Mr Brown said: “My recent visit to the A77 Maybole bypass public exhibition was an ideal opportunity to see at first hand the initial proposals for a much needed scheme.
“It also allowed me to once again hear the desire locally for this project to be progressed as soon as possible.”
Carrick MSP Adam Ingram said he was pleased the Transport Minister took the time out of his schedule to come to the exhibition.
“It shows there is priority being given to the Maybole bypass project, and it is a positive start to the new year,” he said. “The show is most definitely on the road.”
But for local residents opinion on the plans was mixed. Bill McCubbin, 74, a former Maybole district councillor who now lives at Queens Terrace, said: “I am delighted that we have reached this stage. The actual route is as good as it is going to get; I am really quite pleased about it.”
Hans Halstvedt, 66, a former civil engineer from Merrick Crescent, Minishant, added: “I am quite happy with what I have seen - although if it had been my choice I would have made it a dual carriageway - but I’m still not sure whether it will actually be constructed.”
But for keen horserider Leigh-ann Gray, 16, of Minnoch Crescent, Maybole, the plans raised concerns for her favourite hobby.
“Where the roundabout is planned at Culzean Road we use quite a lot for the stables,” she explained. “It’s one of the main routes we use for going out hacking, and that often includes wee children with horses.
“If they could put in some kind of bridlepath or something it would help, as not a lot of people even know there is a stables at that end of Maybole.”
The next stage for the bypass project is the production of an environmental statement on the impact of construction of the bypass, identification of the land required for compulsory purchase, and publication of draft Road Orders necessary to amend the line of the A77.
These developments are expected in autumn 2013, when a second public exhibition of the updated plans is expected to be shown.