Low voltage launch for neon waves

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THE CONTROVERSIAL ‘neon waves’ are now illuminating the approaches to Cumbernauld after a low-kew switch on finally went ahead last week – several months behind schedule.

Motorists are now driving through an illuminated corridor of light which aims to replicate the sensation of driving through a wave through the use of flourescent coloured fins backed by powerful spotlights on roadside embankments.

It is understood that the lights will operate on the same timetable as the area’s street lighting.

The scheme sparked controversy last year when it emerged that North Lanarkshire Council had taken a whopping £963,000 out of its capital budget to pay for it.

That attracted widespread criticism after the council announced that it must cut its budget by £55 million within the next two years by scaling back the public services it provides.

Since then, council chiefs have insisted that the project has not proved to be quite so expensive as the cost also included landscaping work nearby.

Yet costs were not the only bone of contention with the scheme.

We also told how the News and Chronicle received complaints from motorists during a test run who said that their progress on the road had been impeded by the dazzle from the lights.

The council admitted that new bulbs were needed for the scheme meaning further tests were necessary – and an opening scheduled for the New Year failed to materialise.

There has been some suggestion that the UK’s largest motoring organisation, the AA had been tipped off about possible risks presented by this scheme.

But it has since emerged that the AA has NO safety fears regarding this scheme.

Spokesperson Paul Watters said:” We are reasonably laid back about roadside art and features which brighten up often bland roads or seek to make a bit of a statement about a place.

“We are happy that all such things will usually be ‘safety audited’ and in most instances these minor distractions do not impede on driver safety – they are no more distracting than a billboard, a plane landing, or an advert on the side of a lorry.”

And Mr Watters reinforced this point by citing a faraway example.

“This week the United Nations launched its ‘Decade of Action’ for global road safety and in Sydney they marked this by shining images onto the harbour bridge,” he said.

“There are plenty of roads in the vicinity!’’