Statements from Bath & North East Somerset Council

29 August 2014: Kelston toll road signage

Within three hours of receiving public liability insurance confirmation from Mr Watts on 15 August, approval was given to place signs on the highway and Bath & North East Somerset Council officers set up all the joint arrangements with South Gloucestershire which has enabled signage to be placed on both sides of the road closure.

As the toll road has no statutory consent or approvals the Council is not required to permit such signage, but has co-operated with the toll road team. Within three working days of receiving the insurance details a Council officer visited the site and agreed signage on the highway.

The Council has improved signage for cyclists and the issue of bus access to Oldfield School is being investigated.

Since the initial contact from the toll road team the Council has consistently advised that the use of a temporary Variable Message Sign is the most appropriate way to convey toll road information and that any toll road signage must work in conjunction with the formal road closure and carry vital information for drivers of large vehicles which are unable to use the toll road.

If the toll road’s traffic consultant wishes to bring forward a properly detailed proposal then we would be happy to consider it. 

15 August 2014: Work to reopen Kelston Road continues apace

Over the past few months a team of engineers has worked behind the scenes to establish firstly the causes of the landslip and secondly to design a solution for repair. Crucially the project is ensuring that this is not simply a short term solution to reopen the road but a long term stabilisation approach that will ensure the resilience of the failed section for decades ahead. Uniquely we have been overlapping some of the design and construction which has allowed us to start work on site even before some of the design detail is finalised.

If you have passed the site over the last couple of weeks you  may have noticed excavators stripping and carefully storing the topsoil ready for replacement after the scheme. The same machinery has then been cutting a series of steps (known as benches) into the hillside below the road. This is in preparation for the placement of a platform on top that will support the equipment needed to bore the piles for the permanent repair. The piles are concrete columns that will be founded in stronger stable ground deep below the surface.

The piling ‘rigs’ are big and heavy pieces of equipment so this platform is vital to provide a strong, stable and level platform from which they, and their supporting plant, can safely and efficiently operate.

Over the next couple of weeks Skanska will be installing this piling platform. This is no mean feat and requires around 15,000 cubic metres of stone to be delivered to site. That’s enough stone to fill 6 Olympic size swimming pools! The platform has to be installed to exacting dimensions and with the specific material of right strength. The stone is locally sourced from the Mendip Hills keeping cost and delivery time to a minimum. The stone will be recycled afterwards.

In the background Skanska’s engineers will be working to complete the detailed design of the piles and start the detailed design of the road carriageway reconstruction. 

5 August 2014: Council reiterates position on temporary toll road

We appreciate the difficulties that local residents have experienced since the emergency closure and have started work on a permanent solution to enable the A431 to reopen as soon as possible, but will not encourage proposals that have not been proven to be safe or compliant with statutory requirements.  

The Council continues to monitor the site for further movement. Although the ground has stopped moving, this remains an active landslide which could move without warning. In the absence of any information from the toll road promoters the Council has concerns about the impact of traffic loading on the land above the slip.

The Council is not in a position to support the temporary road option as we have not been provided with any evidence/information to support the application. A temporary toll road requires Planning Permission and no application has been received. In view of public concerns the Council’s Planning Enforcement team are currently investigating this matter.

The Council has no details to confirm the toll road design meets safety standards and no evidence that insurances are in place for any member of the public who use the private toll road. Members of the public who use the toll road do so at their own risk and are strongly advised to check with their insurance company.

The Council will need to bring in many vehicles to construct the permanent repairs and the close proximity of the temporary toll road access may generate a need for more traffic management on site, prolong the construction period and increase the cost of the repairs.

The Council has already considered – with the support of independent engineering consultants – a bypass road on the south side of the closure, where it would not increase loading above the land slip. This was not considered viable to progress.

31 July 2014: Site works progressing well

The site works have continued to progress well. The site clearance works completed last week as planned. Through the remainder of this week we are completing the construction of the temporary haul road and will start building the stone platforms for the rigs on Monday.

25 July 2014: Site secured and ready for next steps

We have finished both the stock proof fencing and site security fencing. Topsoil stripping has also been completed.

Next week we will be delivering stone through our newly created access and laying the haul road. The haul road will provide a running surface for the crane and rig that is needed for the drilling and construction of the boreholes.

21 July 2014: All systems go for permanent repairs to Kelston Road

Bath & North East Somerset Council is forging ahead with its on-site work to permanently repair the A431 Kelston Road, following a landslip, so it can reopen later this year.

Preparation works, including setting up the site and installing fencing began on-site last week and the Council – working closely with its highway maintenance contractor Skanksa – is planning to work continually on the project until completion so that the road can be reopened before Christmas.

Cllr Paul Crossley (Lib-Dem, Southdown), Leader of Council, said: “Now that we’ve been able to determine the ground affected by the landslip has stabilised, we’re delighted to get moving with the detailed repairs required to fully reopen the A431 Kelston Road.

“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. This first phase involves fencing off the land to keep livestock away from our works, stripping off topsoil and constructing an access route with stone platforms. These platforms will be used in phase two by the drilling rigs to bore deep concrete piles which will support the ground in future.”

Cllr Caroline (Lib-Dem, Newbridge), Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “We have every sympathy with road users, residents and businesses that have been affected by the Kelston Road closure. We are working hard to ensure that the repair works carried out are as effective, efficient and practical as possible. We are committed to keeping the public informed and will be giving local residents and schools etc the chance to visit site and inspect the works at certain stages so that the public can see first-hand the extensive works being undertaken.”

Bath & North East Somerset Council is committed to ensuring the scheme is delivered in the shortest possible time. The land only recently stopped moving which was a pre-requisite before work could begin. The Council has asked all utility companies 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.

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 recently held a public meeting to give an update on the significant progress being made with the project and will post regular updates and details of the repairs on the website www.bathnes.gov.uk/kelston.

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 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.

Work involved

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.

16 July 2014: Work starting on site

The Council is now ready to start the permanent works to get the Kelston Road reopened.

Preparation works, including setting up our site and installing fencing  have started on site today (16 July) and the Council is planning to work continually on the project until completion.

The Council is still working to the published dates, starting in July and on course to reopen the road before Christmas.

The Council will be giving local residents and schools etc the chance to visit site and inspect the works at certain stages in order that the public can see first-hand the extensive works being undertaken.

9 July 2014: Temporary toll road

We appreciate the difficulties that local residents have experienced since the emergency closure and will start work this month to deliver a permanent solution as quickly as possible, but will not encourage proposals that have not been proven to be safe or compliant with statutory requirements.  

The Council continues to monitor the site for further movement. Although the ground has stopped moving, this remains an active landslide which could move without warning. In the absence of any information from the toll road promoters the Council has concerns about the impact of traffic loading on the land above the slip.

The Council is not in a position to support the temporary road option as we have not been provided with any evidence/information to support the application. A temporary toll road requires Planning Permission and no application has been received. In view of public concerns the Council’s Planning Enforcement team are currently investigating this matter.

The Council has no details to confirm the toll road design meets safety standards and no evidence that insurances are in place for any member of the public who use the private toll road.

The Council will need to bring in many vehicles to construct the permanent repairs and the temporary toll road access is likely to generate a need for more traffic management on site, prolong the construction period and increase the cost of the repairs.

The Council has already considered – with the support of independent engineering consultants – a bypass road on the south side of the closure, where it would not increase loading above the land slip. This was not considered viable to progress.

11 June 2014: Kelston Road repairs are on track for permanent solution

Bath & North East Somerset 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. Bath & North East Somerset Council is committed to ensuring the scheme is delivered in the shortest possible time. 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.

Work involved

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.

Permanent option offers the best solution

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.

Progress also being made with Pensford and Midford landslips

Pensford – the land in private ownership has fallen onto the public highway along a section of the A37 at Pensford. This has been removed from the road by the Council and temporary traffic signals are in operation while the landslip still presents a risk. The Council is progressing with the work on site and aims to fully reopen the road before there is an increase in traffic heading for the Glastonbury Festival along the A37 at the end of June.

Midford – the land in private ownership has fallen onto the public highway along a section of the Midford Road. The Council has obtained quotes for the repairs and proposes to undertake the works to repair the landslip and recharge the landowner’s insurer. The works are scheduled to start in July and finish by the end of August.

ENDS

4 June 2014: Kelston Road update

Emergency works to provide a permanent repair caused by the A431 Kelston Road landslip will begin in July, Bath & North East Somerset Council can confirm today (4 June). This follow months of exhaustive tests and geological sampling which began immediately the road was closed for safety reasons. The Council has already constructed a path for cyclists and pedestrians in a field adjacent to the land slip.

Following detailed analysis of geological  samples taken from the scene, the Council has come up with a permanent solution that will stabilise the land and open the road. The land has only just stopped moving which was a pre-requisite before work could begin to start stabilising the land and repairing the road.

We are working closely with our contractor to programme the specialist plant and equipment required with a view to commencing on site as soon as possible.

Works are anticipated to be completed – and the road fully opened again – before Christmas 2014. This work is being fast tracked as the Council understands the impact of the landslip on local residents, businesses and commuters. Our priority has always been to achieve a permanent solution which means we need not suffer such problems in the future.

The Council will also be looking to apply for Government funding to offset the cost as this was a direct result of the heavy rainfall and flooding that caused so many problems across the country.

The Council will be setting out further details of the plans next week to members of the public.

ENDS

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