The closure of the C13 road through Melbury Abbas will be extended until the end of May.
ThisIsAlfred spoke with Andrew Brown, Project Engineer with Dorset County Council’s Highway Improvement Team. He said that the job has been, ‘A bit harder than anticipated’. He explained why and promises that ratepayers won’t foot the bill.
The C13 was shut to through traffic at the start of January. That was to allow workers to install technology to tackle the traffic tailbacks, caused when large vehicles get stuck in the narrow village. A new layby for HGVs is being built in the centre of the village with a vehicle-activated sign adjacent to it. That will advise northbound drivers of large vehicles that other large lorries are heading through, going south.
The work should have been finished at the end of this month and Andrew Brown accepts that this delay will add to the overall project costs. “We haven’t worked out exactly how much, but time costs money,” he said.
Many of us have noticed the steep hike in council tax payments, required by the new Dorset Council that takes over in April. Andrew says that the extended works won’t be reflected in our local bills. “The whole works on the A350 and the C13, including the gateway signing and the resurfacing on the A350 last year, all came from a Department of Transport grant for local highway schemes. It was the route strategy between Shaftesbury and Blandford. There is no impact on the council taxpayer. The money comes from central government,” Andrew said.
A £2.4 million grant was provided for that works programme. So why is the job going to take longer? “The ground has been a lot harder to dig than we anticipated. In some cases we have encountered rock quite close to the road surface, so the guys digging the trench and putting the ducting in have found it’s taken longer,” Andrew explained.
He says news of the extension of the closure has received a mixed reaction from locals. “In the main, everybody has been fine with the road closure and they have managed to work their lives around it – to get deliveries, to get to the shops or whatever else. People have been really cooperative and really good about working out which direction to travel when they come out of their property. The road closure has worked very well. We’ve been monitoring the situation in the area,” he said.
Andrew says many people are now aware of the delay. “We have not had many reactions. People are aware of it. The local community has been informed. We’ve just had a few people checking on the dates.”
Andrew says they have to finish at the end of May because there is another big project pending. “Not long after that in June and July, the Durweston Bridge on the A357 will be closed and the last thing that we want is a clash of road closures, which could cause more issues on the A350 especially.”
Despite all the digging, Andrew says workers have not uncovered any items of note. “We haven’t found any Roman coins are anything like that,” he said.