Major round-the-clock work to improve a two-kilometre stretch of the busy main road through Arreton is set to begin shortly.
The section between Arreton Cross and the Fighting Cocks cross is in a particularly poor condition and – as the underlying problem is with the foundation of the road – urgent reconstruction as well as resurfacing is required to stop further deterioration of the highway.
Given the scale of the work, which is programmed to take between 12 and 14 weeks, and the fact the stretch is both well used and of particular importance to the tourism economy, Island Roads has met with local councillors and businesses and agreed to complete the works in a single operation to minimise the overall disruption which is inevitable with works of this scale.
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.
The poor underlying condition of this stretch was identified by a series of surveys including the analysis of core samples taken by Island Roads.
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.
To ensure the necessary road closure is for the shortest possible time, work will be carried out around the clock and under a rolling programme so treated stretches will be opened up as soon as possible. Under the rolling works approach, the maximum stretch that will be closed completely for a time would be 400 metres.
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 roadfor 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 stagesand 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.”
Mr Herbert said notice of the diversion route would be advertised in advance of work while, once the scheme was underway, electronic signs would 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.
Cllr 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 that in several stages.
“The work will inevitably casue 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.
Island Roads in planning to begin the work by the end of the month subject to approval by the IW Council.
The diversion routes while the work is in progress will be publicised shortly.