(News release Northumberland County Council:) Morpeth, 13 September 2023 - Major engineering works to safeguard a stretch of road between Weldon Bridge and Rothbury for future generations are progressing well.
The complex scheme to tackle the active landslip at Todstead on the B6344 is due to last until Spring next year, but a number of key milestones have already been reached.
The 180 metre long retaining wall consisting of 16 metre deep sheet piles have all been driven which will now support the road during the remainder of the works, preventing the embankment from slipping which has led to cracking of the road surface in the past.
During the pile installation, the existing asphalt was found in places to be over five metres deep due to repairs that have been carried out since the 1970s.
Re-profiling of the southern embankment of the River Coquet is also underway to prevent erosion of the riverbank, whilst the road to the west side of the landslip is also being re-aligned.
Installation of de-watering wells and drainage to the hillside above the B6344 will follow this stage, creating a system that will relieve water pressure from the hillside. This is vital as the water pressure in the ground is a key cause of the landslip.
A diversion remains in place via the B6341 with extra signs reminding drivers that Rothbury and the Coquetdale is open for business as usual.
As the project is in the River Coquet Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), environmental concerns remain at the forefront of the work. An area of woodland five times the size of that removed will be planted before the scheme is complete.
Councillor John Riddle, Cabinet Member for Local Services at the County Council, explained: ‘We're making good progress on this long-term solution to protect this road for future generations. It’s a very complex scheme in a challenging environment but engineers have made excellent progress over the summer and the piling for the retaining wall is a key milestone for the work. I want to thank people for their continued patience while we carry out this vital repair work which is crucial to avoid losing this section of road altogether in the future.’
Gareth Farrier, Divisional Director at BAM, said: ‘It has been fantastic to support the council and the residents of Northumberland in developing a permanent solution to a very frustrating problem that has impacted upon many people in a negative way for many years. Whilst we have thrived on the complex geotechnical issues that have had to be overcome, ultimately the success of the scheme is the result of the incredible collaboration between Northumberland Council, Atkins, local landowners and stakeholders, BAM and our suppliers, which will deliver long-term stability of a key road, with enhanced ecological and biodiversity benefits to the fore.’
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Cllrs John Riddle (left) and Glen Sanderson at the Todstead landslip site. Picture: Northumberland County Council.