Cove works delayed

Posted on: 4 March 2016

A road closure, needed to replace a safety barrier and road re-surfacing on the A396, north of Cove, Tiverton, will last 13 days longer than originally planned.

Following a review by contractors,  it is predicted that the current full time road closure will remain in place until the 24th March 2016, in time for Easter.

Completion of the whole scheme remains the 13th May 2016.

Contractors are hopeful of the road reopening under traffic lights by 24th March, in time for Easter and completion of the whole scheme remains the same 13th May 2016.

The reason for the delay is due to a short section of the river bank not being strong enough to support the proposed safety barrier (road restraint system).

Additional piles and a raft foundation have to be constructed and to do this the contractor must drill through very challenging ground conditions including rock.

A significant width of the highway has to be excavated to provide the raft foundation; this leaves insufficient room to allow traffic to pass safely.

Devon County Council has commissioned South West Highways Ltd to carry out this essential maintenance work.

Work crews have worked Saturdays since the start of the works and during the remainder of the closure they will be working seven days a week and extended hours during the day.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for

Councillor Stuart Hughes

Cllr Stuart Hughes

Highways said: “We are doing everything we can accelerate progress. The contractor has doubled the number of stone masons and is intending to bring in a second piling rig.
“On other sections of the project,  I am pleased to report that work has progressed to programme and in some areas work is ahead of schedule. Approximately half of the piles have already been drilled, 120m of new wall constructed and 360m of new vehicle restraint system installed.”

Cllr Polly Colthorpe, local County Councillor for Tiverton West said: “It is Councillor Polly Colthorpedisappointing that the work is going to take longer than planned, but unfortunately we always new that this was a possibility.
“The contractors are doing everything they can and are working round the clock to complete the works as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“Potholes which may have appeared as a result of the increased traffic have also recently been repaired.”

Signage will be updated to reflect these changes and the alternative route will continue to be swept twice a week during the closure.

A dedicated website has been set up to provide information for the public about the works

11 comments on “Cove works delayed

  1. anonymous says:

    In reply to devon news centre, 4th april.
    I understand the need to support the edge of the highway where the bank has changed, though this is below road level. why is this solid wall built on top when a motorway style barrier could have been used, thus preserving the open aspect and view which forms an attractive and unique landscape feature. also I notice there is a kerb edge which narrows the available highway width and could cause a tripping hazard to vehicles, resulting in an accident. why is the wall there? why is it so high? the “cock and hen” stonework looks out of place in this setting – I would have thought more appropriate for say, a garden wall or more urban project. vehicles are more likely to catch on the irregular surface of the wall which could also cause damage to the vehicle or increase the chance of an accident as opposed to a smooth surface. despite being carried out under general permitted development, that alone does not exclude the requirement to observe both national and local planning policy and I feel this development is unsympathetic to its surroundings and gives a sense of urbanisation in a rural setting which had spoiled the landscape and feel of the area. if such developments continue to proliferate throughout the county it will further degrade and spoil the attractiveness of the area and help contribute to urban sprawl which takes away the best qualities of our natural environment. the scheme could have been done alot better but sadly it appears we have now lost what was there before due to a lack of foresight and respect for the unique and attractive features of the area.

  2. I wish to remain anonymous says:

    I am disappointed that the design and sighting of the wall section does not appear to follow local and national planning policy with respect to the preservation, enjoyment and protection of the natural environment and landscape amenity. it is an ugly blight on what was previously an attractive section of one of the arterial roads leading in to exmoor and the surrounding area. prior to the wall being built one could see openly into the river landscape to the west, which had a pleasing aspect as the river could be seen tumbling down over rocks as one passed by in a motor vehicle. now all we see is very bland and monotonous walling over some considerable length which blocks the entire view of the river and countryside beyond which provided significant landscape and amenity value as viewed from the a396. where rural development is necessary for example as in highways maintenance or other services, careful consideration should be given to the design, construction and sighting of development in accordance and with respect to local and national planning policy. I feel this scheme subtracts rather than adds to the area and more care should have been taken throughout the entire process so as to ensure public funds are used for the benefit of the public in the most appropriate and acceptable manner and delivered through service of a high standard. the scheme is an insensitive development on what was formerly a particularly attractive setting and should be rectified to deliver a more appropriate design and construction that serves all needs, not simply those of health and safety or whatever rules allow such ridiculous structures to manifest under the guise of either “improvements” or “safety requirements” etc. authorities can no longer be trusted to provide sustainable schemes and as a result valuable environmental assets are being lost to a monopoly of blandness by default – diminishing our surroundings, having a negative impact on quality of life and failing to uphold the values and principles of sustainability. with regards to safety, the top of the wall section elevates risk of serious injury during an accident due to the protuding cog like arrangement of stones set along the top edge. previously there was a motorway style metal crash barrier running the entire length of the area which seems an entirely adequate solution and I’m sure been a tried and trusted method of preventing exit from the highway for many years. overall this is a poorly designed construction and a considerable waste of public money due to its excessive nature. money could have been saved by simply improving the existing crash barriers allowing further funds to be spent elsewhere.

    • Thank you for taking the time to give us your views.
      The existing safety barrier had to be replaced in order to protect the public because it no longer met national standards.

      The scheme was considered a high priority within the highway maintenance programme, primarily because of the exposed drop to the river below the road.

      During the design process engineers discovered that there has been some changes to the bank since the original barrier was built.

      In some areas the edge of the road needed extra support and that is why retaining walls have been built.

      In addition safety barriers need space to deflect in order to perform. At the Cove site there are locations where the required deflection space is not available because of the steep bank below the road.

      Where there isn’t enough room a parapet wall has been built which provides an appropriate level of vehicle containment.

      The wall has been built with local stone using a ‘cock and hen’ coping which is a feature of bound masonry walls in the area.

      We appreciate your concerns about the loss of view of the river and we have tried to keep solid walling to a minimum.

      The works carried out are within the scope of general permitted development order of the Town and Country Planning Act and therefore comply with planning requirements.

  3. Mrs Kate Clayton-White says:

    The info chart on the website suggests that the A396 will be closed at Cove from 9.30am till 3.30pm from 4th to 9th April. (It is listed under “type of closure”). Yet beneath the chart it says that 2 way traffic lights with a convoy system will operate during working hours. This is very confusing. Will the road be open or not?
    Also I was told yesterday that diversion signs will stay in place for the remaining forthcoming closures planned for April and May. This means that traffic will still use the local diversion to avoid a 30 mile journey each time.
    However, I understand that Devon Highways have given the go-ahead to BT to work on the Old Tiverton Road for 3 weeks – starting on 4th April – the same day as the start of the next planned road closure at Cove! Signs have already appeared at the end of Old Tiverton Road in Bampton warning of delays. This seems to be very poor planning with scant regard for the long suffering local commuters. Please clarify!!

  4. David Graham says:

    Following on from the reply to Oliver Courtney’s comments, if seven day working is justified now then why not from the beginning of the project ? Surely it was never likely that motorists would use the extremely lengthy official diversion if any shorter alternative was available. This has meant huge damage to all the minor routes connecting Tiverton and Bampton not to mention the inconvenience to hundreds of local residents.

  5. Oliver Courtney says:

    It beggars belief that there was never any weekend working to get this job completed in a shorter time. The disruption to local people trying to get to work or do basic chores like shopping or buying fuel is huge. Who is going to pay for the considerable wasted time, wasted fuel and increased damage to vehicles that have had to use the narrow alternatives. Clearly not Devon County Council, they have simply let the community carry the cost and saved money by not having weekend work.

    Other large projects are run through the night to minimise disruption to the community, why not this one? Aren’t we worth it in Devon and Somerset?

    • Hi Oliver. Work crews have worked Saturdays since the start of the works and during the remainder of the closure they will be working seven days a week and extended hours during the day. Thanks.

  6. Mrs Jennifer Stringer says:

    Although I sympathise with the technical challenges involved, I do feel that far more could have been done to divert traffic. eg one-way routes for cars and lighter vehicles. Living at Brompton Regis in West Somerset, the diversion is more than 20 miles long, and the skinny lanes between the A396 and the link road could have been used if managed properly.

  7. Kate Clayton-White says:

    Since this website has been updated and the link to the “comments” section changed, comments previously written by road users affected by the A396 road closure (mostly complaints) seem to have disappeared. I cannot think of a good reason for this – although anyone looking at this website for the first time might now get the impression that no-one has complained or commented before now. Maybe this is the impression Devon Highways wants to give…. Misleading? I think so. Why else have these comments been erased from the website?

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