Island Roads are set to undertake a full reconstruction of the road between The Fighting Cocks and Arreton Cross over a period of 12-14 weeks, which will see motorists diverted via Whitely Bank or The Downs.
Local residents and business owners agreed that they would prefer one long period of disruption as opposed to the work being undertaken in stages. As a result, 400m of the road will be closed at any one time with work being carried out around the clock.
In total 2km of the road will be worked on with the underlining issue of a poor foundation being tackled. The remedy involves digging out the highway to a depth of approximately 350mm and reinstating it with separate layers including the new running surface. Excavating to this depth is ideally undertaken in the high summer when the water table is at its lowest, but the work is being scheduled outside of that period because the road is so important to the holiday industry.
The scheme is part of a programme of work that will improve highways – including many stretches of main roads – across the Island between now and October. In this instance, the adjacent footway will also be resurfaced whilst the crews are on-site.
Paul Herbert, Island Roads service director, said:
“What is clear from the extensive surveys and tests undertaken is that the problem with the road surface is caused by an inadequate substructure well below the surface. This material must be dug out and removed as required over the two-kilometre stretch in order to reconstruct a stronger road for many years to come.
“Because this is a particularly large scheme that will affect many businesses at what is an important time for tourism, we have taken extra steps to meet with the local community and, in so doing, to agree a scheme that minimises local disruption following the Easter break.
“The overwhelming view of around 40 business representatives at a meeting we hosted in Arreton last week, was that the work is badly needed and should be undertaken as soon as possible.
“The great majority of businesses also clearly felt that it would better to undertake the improvement work in one single period as this means the disruption will be shorter than if we were to do it in stages and this approach also improves the integrity of the road as it is left with fewer construction joints.
“I would like to thank the Newchurch and Arreton community for their views and we will continue to work with businesses and other road users before and during the works. While this work will inevitably cause some disruption it will mean that another main road of historically poor quality will be brought up to standard and maintained for years to come.”
Electronic signs will be placed at either end of the work site giving up to date information on which businesses could be accessed. Island Roads’ mobile visitor centre will also be in the area next week and residents and businesses are invited to drop in to find out more the scheme.
Councillor Colin Richards, IW Council member for Arreton and Newchurch, said:
“There is no doubt that this road is currently in a horrendous condition. This reconstruction work clearly needs to be done urgently and cannot be undertaken in winter. I, along with the large majority of businesses, believe it is better to do the work in one go rather than in several stages.
“The work will inevitably cause some disruption and difficulties but Island Roads has undertaken to keep residents and road users informed of progress and to let people know which businesses are open. Once completed, this work will bring about a much-needed improvement to an important major road on the Island.”
Island Roads has contacted Arreton Primary School to discuss the school’s requirements during the project.
Curing time is required for the sub-base material which may, on occasion give the impression that works are not progressing as fast as possible. This is not the case but the long term success of the road construction means that all the correct procedures must be followed.
UPDATE TUESDAY: Work on the 12-week project is to begin on Monday 20th April, it has been confirmed.
Southern Vectis say their Route 8 and 23 buses will be effected by the 12-week closure, however are still working with Island Roads to finalise plans for both routes.