During the first week of October 1978, there were threats to form “human barricades” across the new section of the A725 East Kilbride Expressway at the Auchinraith Junction. That part of the expressway was due to open from Crossbasket down to Auchinraith on Tuesday 10th October 1978 and some nearby residents in Springwell were NOT happy.
Only 11th hour meetings averted the demonstrations planned to wreck the opening. Tenants were angry at the apparent lack of safety on the roads, fearing the road was too close to homes and gardens. The complaints were mostly from people in nearby Auchinraith Terrace, where part of the new expressway was on embankments only feet from their gardens.
It was claimed that the designers made an oversight in not providing a crash barrier at the location where homes are and it was just a matter of time before some vehicle ploughed off the road. It was noted that children played in the fields and gardens and only a wire fence was there to prevent access on to the new road.
The complaints seemed justified. Mrs Mary Simm, officebearer in the local tenants association said “Lets hope its not going to be an icy winter as that would make disaster all more likely”. It was alleged in the press, Mary along with others had put things in motion to wreck the opening ceremony if something was not done.
Mary secured talks with the Council and Councillor Malcolm Waugh, whom at the last moments, agreed that another 20 yards of barrier would be put up to protect the gardens, upholding the complaint. Local residents were congratulated on their patience for the noise and disruption during the works as a whole and some were invited for a tour of the road before it opened.
How far we’ve come. Today, it would be appalling if local residents were left to have final input into the safety of major roads these days, with every angle, camber, surface scrutinised now by planners to eliminate any risk to the design, prior to construction.
Pictured from my own collection is the completed section of Expressway showing Auchinraith Junction leading through Blantyre, taken from a vantage point at the back of the High Blantyre Industrial Estate.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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