Rothbury landslip road reopens following £10m repairs

After nearly three-and-a-half years and £10million spent on repairs, a Northumberland road blocked by a major landslip has reopened to traffic today.
The B6344 road at Crag End, near Rothbury, has been closed completely after a land slip that started on Boxing Day 2012 and worsened during the following months.
After 13 months of construction, over recent weeks, contractors have been pulling out all the stops to try and get the road open before the Easter holidays – and have succeeded with hours to go.
The work to repair the land slip has been one of the most complex engineering projects carried out by the council in many years.
The geology of the ground was so difficult a great deal of design and investigation work was needed before repairs could actually start.
The construction work could only start in February 2015 after engineers spent the previous year installing a pumping system that could remove millions of litres of water from the ground underneath the landslip.
The work was made even more complex as the landslip took place in a very sensitive environmental area containing a number of protected species.
The physical construction work involved driving hundreds of concrete filled steel tubes up to 80 feet into the ground, with a large concrete beam across the top and 144 ground anchors connected around 100 feet into the ground to stop the land from moving.
A length of approximately 400 metres of road has also been fully rebuilt, while council staff have checked the entire length of the B6344 from Weldon Bridge to rectify any other defects which may have happened since the road was last used over three years ago.
Councillor Ian Swithenbank, Cabinet Member for Local Services, said: “I am delighted we have been able to open the road ahead of the Easter holidays – it is fantastic news for both residents and visitors.
“This has been an extraordinarily complicated engineering scheme. There was no option for a quick repair – such was the movement of the ground it would have just collapsed again.
“I appreciate this has caused a level of disruption for local residents and I’d like to thank them their patience and understanding over the years this project has taken – it’s been a long time but money well spent.
“People driving down this road every day will be totally unaware of the complex workings that lie beneath.
“And while they may notice the vegetation has been cut back, environmental issues were a key concern throughout this scheme and it will grow back in the coming months.
“This repair work should give the town of Rothbury and surrounding areas a great boost as we head towards the summer months and is another sign that Northumberland is well and truly open for business.”
County Councillor for Rothbury & Coquetdale Councillor Steven Bridgett added: "It is true when they say that 'difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations' and that quote seems pretty apt in these circumstances.
“It is with a huge amount of relief that I am pleased to see the road re-opening; it has been a long protracted process to reach this point, and a far more technical process than the patch and repair jobs that have taken place on this stretch road in the past.
“Understanding the geology and underground water problems have been crucial to developing and implementing a solution on this site and I want to thank the council for contributing the majority of the money to pay for this and VBA along with all of the other contractors for working hard to get the road opened in time for the Easter weekend.
“Most importantly though; I want to thank the residents and businesses of Coquetdale for their continued patience and support while this work has been carried out, I know it has been difficult for many, but the shortest route into Coquetdale is now accessible again and our beautiful valley is open for business."
There will be an official opening ceremony for the road next month.
After Easter there may be some minor traffic restrictions and the need for temporary traffic lights on the stretch of road to complete some final landscaping of the area.
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