The Council is about to begin the next phase of on-site work to permanently repair the A431 Kelston Road, following exhaustive geological tests of the landslip site.
The final results have been used by geotechnical engineers to determine the full extent of the works required.
The project brings a number of significant logistical challenges due to the size, type and specialist equipment required as well as the considerable volume of material required to complete the work.
The Council will be working closely with its highway maintenance contractor to start work on site in July – with completion of the overall project to be achieved before Christmas 2014.
The land has only just stopped moving which was a pre-requisite before work could begin. A route will be retained for pedestrians and cyclists throughout the course of the works.
Officers involved in achieving a permanent solution to the Kelston Road landslip will post regular updates and details of the repairs on the website www.bathnes.gov.uk/kelston and hold a public meeting at the end of June to give an update on the significant progress being made with the project.
Cllr Caroline Roberts (Lib-Dem, Newbridge), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “Bath & North East Somerset Council’s priority has always been to achieve a permanent solution which means we need not suffer such problems in the future.
“We have every sympathy with road users, residents and businesses that have been affected by the Kelston Road closure. It has been an intensely frustrating time for them. We have been working hard to ensure that the repair works carried out are as effective, efficient and practical as possible. We’ve taken the best advice to ensure that this scheme meets those criteria, and we are committed to keeping the public informed.
“The Council has made a second request to all the utility companies asking them to complete any planned work on the Kelston Road during the road closure period in order to avoid any disruption after the works are completed.”
The extensive repair work falls into four main categories:
1. Construct the temporary works to enable access for all the equipment and materials
2. Drill and construct deep concrete piles.
3. Rebuild the road, improve the drainage and resurface the road.
4. Remove the equipment and reinstate the adjacent land. (To ensure the road reopens at the earliest opportunity, some ground reinstatement will be programmed for after the road reopens.)
The engineering work is designed to deliver an optimum scheme which is capable of handling the area’s traffic in all weather conditions and be completed in the shortest practical time for a permanent solution.
In order to complete the Kelston Road repair works, the contractor will need to site drilling rigs on both the existing carriageway and in the field adjacent to the land slip. The work includes:
- Approximately 4,000 tonnes of stone will be needed to construct an access and platform on the sloping ground to enable the drilling to be undertaken;
- Deep concrete piles, up to 600mm in diameter, will be drilled down as far as 15 metres below the existing ground surface to support the new road. Smaller mini piles will also be installed in the field front of the existing wall to support the retaining wall;
- The piles will be made from reinforced concrete with metal cages – they will be constructed off-site and transported soon after so that they can be lowered into place while the concrete is still wet;
- Material taken from the site or used to construct the temporary platforms will be recycled and used on other engineering projects.
On behalf of the Council, independent consultants investigated the possibility of providing a temporary road for light traffic to bypass the current road closure.
This has been ruled out on the basis that seeking quotes and constructing the road would take 16 weeks to complete and the location of the temporary road would in part be required for locating drilling rigs during construction of the permanent road.
Conservative councillors representing the Kelston area have expressed anger at the news the Council have rejected the idea of building the temporary road.
Councillor Geoff Ward (Cons, Bathavon North) said: “If the Council had treated this issue with the urgency it warranted then we would have a temporary road already in place by now. Instead, because our Lib Dem-run Council failed to get a grip of the situation sooner, residents and commuters are now set to face another six months of misery.
“This is a main route into Bath which has already been closed for over four months. It is causing regular log-jams on diversion routes and many businesses in Kelston are warning that they face going to the wall due to the drop in passing trade.”
Fellow Councillor Terry Gazzard (Cons, Bathavon North) added: “Having spoken with many residents and businesses in the area, I am sure there will be some relief that at least a programme of work has now been put in place.
“However, another six months is still a very long time to wait for those directly affected by this closure. The Council’s claim that a temporary road would take up to sixteen weeks to complete doesn’t stack up.
“We have people there willing to allow their land to be used for a temporary road and are ready to get on with building it, if only B&NES would get behind the idea. Even if the sixteen-week claim were correct, it could still have been finished and open by now if Council had got on with it.”
Councillor Martin Veal (Cons, Bathavon North) concluded: “It’s clearly positive news that the Council has finally decided on a plan to undertake the permanent repairs needed for this road. However, having already been closed for over four months, it is disappointing that the Council is not taking forward the idea of a temporary road.”