Northumberland County Council is reassuring residents of the Coquet Valley that it is closely monitoring the condition of the B6344 Weldon Bridge to Rothbury road at Todstead near Weldon Bridge after further minor cracking recently appeared in the road surface.
This length of road is in an area where the valley side is made up of unstable soils affected by high water pressures in the groundwater and the toe of the embankment is also affected by erosion from the River Coquet. The valley side has been the subject of ongoing minor earth movements for as long as the road has been in place. These have created uneven road surfaces and cracking and these have been repaired over time by resurfacing after each movement.
The Council has been carrying out detailed investigation and monitoring of the area since 2016 using specialist geotechnical engineers. As an outcome of initial investigations and the need to control the groundwater the Council undertook drainage works last year which has helped to stabilise the land above the road in this area..
The Council is continuing to monitor the road and explore options for long term repair. In the short term the Council will be carrying out some minor repairs to the road surface following the cracking, but the latest monitoring reports indicate that any future movement is likely to be small resulting in minor disruption to the running surface rather than causing major failure. However rigorous monitoring will continue.
The Council is also in the process of compiling a major multi-million capital funding bid to the Department for Transport’s ‘Highway Maintenance Challenge Fund’ that if successful would create a long term engineering solution to stabilise this section of road and prevent any further movement.
The deadline for bids is 31st October, with successful schemes then being implemented during the next two financial years.
Cllr Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services said: “The land slips at Todstead have been a long standing problem on this road and we are determined that we will find a cost effective long term solution to address this.
“ We’ve developed a scheme that we intend to submit to the DfT to access the significant capital funds required to safeguard the road. In the meantime we will continue to do everything we can to ensure it remains safe and passable to traffic’.
Cllr Trevor Thorne, Councillor for Shilbottle, added: “Everyone that regularly travels along this road will be familiar with the long term problems and uneven surfaces at Todstead and I fully support the work being undertaken to seek funding for a long term solution that will safeguard this vital local road.”