Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Cumbria Highways notification about road and bridge closures

David Peters, Natland Parish Council's 'Highwayman'  writes:
The two emergency road closures of particular relevance to Natland are Hawes Bridge (U5625 Hawes Lane) and The Helm (U5630) ... Understandably there is no indication yet of when the roads might be reopened.  The text explains that the 21-day orders may be extended for a further 21 days, after which a "temporary" order must be made which can apply for 18 months before renewal.

By mid-afternoon on Saturday 5 December the river had reached the tops of both Hawes Bridge arches and was beginning to cross the road on the Helsington side (right bank).  The water rose further overnight and washed away the first 10 metres of the downstream parapet.  Meanwhile, on three sections of the road over The Helm ground water pressure had lifted the carriageway surfacing which consequently broke up when it was trafficked.  The damage was aggravated on the Sunday by some drivers seeking to avoid the flooded A65 Burton Road by Helm Sink before 'road closed' signs were in place.  More drivers chose the Natland option causing periods of gridlock and damaging verges in the village.

The 'Natland diversion' worked better on Monday 14 December, following the serious road traffic accident on the A65, because PCSOs were available to manage the traffic.

This is the second time in recent memory that the Helm road has failed in this way and consideration may need to be given to whether it is worth maintaining as a through route.  Natland Parish Council made such representations to the Highway Authority on the previous occasion, but to no avail.  The adequacy/standard of maintenance of the culvert under the A65 which drains Helm Sink may also have to be raised.