'Fury' as work on landslip road looks set to drag on until 2020
PUBLISHED: 08:08 17 January 2019
A lane closure which was put in place in Saffron Walden after a landslip is not expected to be lifted until next year.
The closure in Newport Road could be in place until January 17, 2020, in order for contractors to carry out work needed to stabilise the land above the road permanently, according to the Essex Highways website.
Residents who use the road on a daily basis are angry that the lane closure is still in place after four months and Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) councillors confirmed that they will be writing to the county council to push for action.
R4U’s Heather Asker, Saffron Walden district councillor and former town mayor, said: “There are limited options to get out of town to the west and to the station - and for most buses and larger vehicles Newport Road is pretty much it. This minor landslide happened in 2018, so a date for the repair in 2020 is frankly unacceptable.
“Residents find the temporary lights are inconvenient, unreliable and dangerous. Uttlesford residents pay more than £40million in Council Tax a year to Essex County Council, but they continue to treat us like second class citizens.”
Chartered engineer Deryk Eke, who is R4U’s spokesman on infrastructure, said he thinks fixing the bank is a “straight-forward engineering job” and a temporary fix should have been immediately applied.
He said: “It’s just a case of priorities, and Essex County Council has got it wrong. A cost effective temporary fix should have been immediately applied, and followed by a permanent solution later. It is a false economy not to take action now.”
Saffron Walden resident Andrew Webb said the county council needs to focus on fixing major infrastructure, rather than “resurfacing minor single track roads”.
Mr Webb said: “I’m furious. We seem to have a town stuffed with construction and earthworks equipment to build houses but not fix civic infrastructure. Those sides are limestone. And very crumbly. What if the other side falls in?
“The tricky thing is that HGVs can’t use Walden Road and Audley End Road or Windmill Hill due to the delicate bridges. Essex Highways need to pull their finger out and stop resurfacing minor single track roads in the villages and sort out the major trunk road in and out of town that supplies all our food, goods and fuel.”
A spokesman for Essex Highways said: “We are now in the final stages of arranging for specialist engineers to advise us on whether there are temporary arrangements we can make which would allow us to remove the lane restriction. However, longer-term work to stabilise the land above the road permanently is still subject to further geotechnical advice and possibly requires major works.”