CARNOUSTIE’S preparations for the Ricoh Ladies’ Open almost came to a complete standstill this week after a major traffic route became unusable.
One witness described the sight of heavy traffic piling into Station Road on Tuesday morning as “a scene from a ‘Carry On’ film”.
On Monday afternoon around 4 p.m. a fault in the barrier protecting the Station Road rail crossing was reported, and the route was blocked for health and safety reasons.
It appears that the barrier became jammed in the lowered position, and road closed signs were quickly put in place.
Early the next morning, Councillor Helen Oswald was alerted by a constituent to a build up of lorries and other goods vehicles on Station Road.
It appears that as more and more vehicles turned into Station Road to use the crossing, the chances of being able to extricate themselves diminished.
Councillor Oswald was one of the first at the scene, she said: “There were major hold-ups and traffic chaos in Station Road all morning with HGVs stacked up and locals visiting the Co-op having difficulty accessing the car park.
“I spent a good 45 minutes from 11.30 a.m. directing cars and vans to alternative routes.”
Four police officers were also on site, and were able to direct drivers along Ireland Street, away from the congestion.
Councillor Brian Boyd expressed his dismay at the situation and said: “This is precisely not what we are needing right now, a week before the Open.
“When I was down earlier on there were eight HGVs full of supplies and materials for the construction work at the Ladies’ Open.
“I certainly hope that Network Rail will sort it out in time, and I suggest that they make it a matter of severe urgency.”
Initial reports from Network Rail suggested that the entire boom would need to be repaired and that this could take between two and three weeks.
However, the latest information suggests that the problem may be remedied in the next four to five days, hopefully thereby minimising disruption to the Open preparations.
A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “There is currently a fault with the barrier itself which means that it cannot be raised or lowered normally.
“We understand that there is a need for goods vehicles to cross over there, to serve the golf course, hotel and the Ricoh Ladies’ Open, so we will be putting maintenance staff at the crossing at pre-arranged times to manually open the barriers.”
Speaking for the Carnoustie Golf Links Management Committee, club secretary Colin McLeod said: “It did hold us up temporarily. The barriers broke and were then later removed.
“It was impacting on lorries carrying golf buggies and equipment, and also on parties of golfers who were visiting the courses by bus.
“Network Rail were very quick in their reaction and their efforts meant that it simply delayed rather than interrupted preparations.”
A spokesperson for Tayside Police said: “Tayside Police wishes to advise that all vehicles – except heavy articulated lorries – are unable to use the level crossing at the railway line in Carnoustie’s Station Road.
“This is due to a fault with the barriers that is currently being repaired and there will be no access until further notice.
“Officials are monitoring the crossing and they should be approached for assistance by any drivers of heavy vehicles who do require to cross the line.”
The Ricoh Ladies’ Open is due to begin on Thursday and will run until the following Sunday.
The competition will feature some of the world’s top female golfers and is expected to have a sizeable economic impact on the town.