Things didn’t get off to a great start when the central section of the A725 East Kilbride Expressway opened in 1978. At the new Auchinraith Roundabout new underpasses had been built, allowing pedestrians safe passage to the other side of the junction, without having to cross roads.
Residents in Springwells complained right away noticing that as the nights were darker in October when it opened, there was a lack of lighting in the underpasses and people were afraid to walk through these new tunnels.
Fears of mugging hotspots arose quickly and members of the Tenants Association asked if something could be done to improve lighting. Part of the initial problem, was that even after only a week of opening, three primary street lights were broken by vandals, meaning that the area was darker that expected.
Then the worst thing happened. An elderly lady was mugged in the underpass with youths often jumping out in the dark to scare pedestrians. Plain clothes officers were drafted in to patrol the area and seek out any troublemakers. Meantime, the complaints were upheld. Following the street lighting repairs, the designers took the decision to install frequently spaced underpass lighting, choosing bright bulbs to make the paths feel safer.
Today, the paths are brightly illuminated and safe to walk on and it should be noted that 1978 was a particularly bad year for vandalism and disorder in Blantyre, thankfully now in the past. I’m always amazed speaking to the amount of people who tell me they’ve never walked in these underground paths, not because of safety, but simply because they didn’t need to , or didn’t even know they were there!
Pictured from my collection are the completed underpasses at the time of this story.
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017
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