Prior to last week’s Scrutiny Committee (see coverage), new Isle of Wight Conservative council leader, Dave Stewart, made a passing comment outside the chamber that they “would get Undercliff Drive open again”.
Just over a week later it has been revealed that Cllr Stewart – councillor for Chale, Niton and Whitwell – has now commissioned a feasibility study by Professor Bruce Denness on solutions to reopen the road to through traffic. Prof Denness gained his doctorate on the subject of Undercliff Drive, so is incredibly well-placed to carry out the study.
Permanent route within “a few years”?
Although the temporary access road for residents is now complete, the lack of through traffic for three years has had a detrimental impact on businesses both in Ventnor and Niton.
Ten months after the landslide the Government refused a request for emergency funding to reopen the road.
However, as reported by OnTheWight back in 2014, Professor Denness, who while working for the British Geological Survey built roads in challenging conditions all over the world, believes there is no reason why, within “a few years”, the area cannot be stabilised sufficiently to enable a permanent through route to be built.
Stewart: “Road has been closed for far too long”
Cllr Stewart has today told the CP,
“This road has been closed for far too long and I think the previous Independent administration seemed to just shrug its shoulders and accept it cannot be solved because of cost issues.
“However, I have said to the council it’s a priority to find a cost-effective solution because the situation cannot continue. The road needs to be back in operation.”
He went on to say,
“My view is it cannot be beyond our engineering capability to find a way to remedy a landslip of less than 100 metres – even if it is with a bridge.
“This road closure has had a significant impact on the local economy for years now and the council believes at the very least research must take place to see what the options are.”
The landslip that took place in February 2014 (with the first signs being reported to Island Roads in December 2013), resulted in nine properties becoming landlocked.
Island Roads, through their sub-contractor, John Peck, were in the midst of a huge engineering project intended to mitigate against further potential landslides along Undercliff Drive in St Lawrence.
In September 2014 members of the Isle of Wight executive approved a budget of up to £500,000 to fund a temporary access road for residents.
The Executive also agreed to look at what was described as ‘option 7’, to investigate a longer term solution which would involve managing groundwater, which could potentially result in the ground being stabilised enough for a new road in the future.
The option to repair and reopen through road from Ventnor to Niton was expected to cost between £6-£20 million.
OnTheWight have published in excess of 120 articles on the Undercliff Drive saga. Flick back through the archive to read the background.