Measures put in place to keep A19 reconstruction on track

This story was published 15 February 2021

Action is being taken to keep reconstruction of the A19 at Chapel Haddlesey on course after the project was halted temporarily last month by the impact of Storm Christoph.

A19 progress

Floodwater overtopped sections of the road following persistent heavy rain, but North Yorkshire County Council’s contractor was back on site to resume work at the beginning of February.

The County Council’s highways team and contractor Balfour Beatty worked together to ensure work could restart as soon as it was safe. The target remains to reopen the road in June this year.

Following Storm Christoph, the highways team and contractor are introducing measures to keep the project on course and potentially save time.

One of these is creating off-site stockpiles. These will mitigate any delay in the supply of materials from quarries and allow two sections of the works to be undertaken simultaneously.

The contractor has revised their schedule to allow works that are clear of floodwater to be done earlier than originally planned. A review of the work needed to culverts means work can begin on rebuilding their stone parapet walls, reusing some existing material, supplemented by new stone.

With the first section of the reconstruction of the embankment and road structure heading towards completion, construction machinery to lay the new road surface is due on site on Monday, 8 March, for the initial road surfacing work.  

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We understand the frustration of local people and their desire to see this work completed and the road reopened as soon as possible.

“On 18 February, we mark one year since the road closed and we do not underestimate the inconvenience to people locally during that time. Many of our own staff not only work in the area, but live there, too, so they experience the disruption first hand.

“When the road collapsed, our highways team faced a major task. Planning, design, procurement and mobilisation for a project of this size would normally take more than a year in itself, but we swiftly completed this process as well as setting aside the funds so that we were able to award the contract and begin the process of repairing the highway.

“We have made significant progress and our teams are doing all they can to reopen the road as soon as possible.”

Cllr Mackenzie said that despite floodwater overtopping sections of the road during Storm Christoph, the reconstructed sections worked well.

“Where the new rock armour construction on the embankment is in place, it did its job, standing up well to the flood and remaining intact,” he said.

“Sections of the old road still to be reconstructed did flood, but when complete these will have a new embankment with a stepped construction with rock armour in place for future protection and resilience. None of the new construction has yet reached its final road height.”

Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, said: “The rebuilding of the A19 is a top priority for everybody in Selby district, and I will continue to monitor progress very closely. It is reassuring that the newly completed section of the new causeway has not been damaged by this month’s flooding, and this bodes well for the final scheme. The winter months were always going to be a challenge, and it is imperative that all possible steps are taken to complete the rebuild as soon as possible.”

The reconstructed A19 has to remain within its existing footprint. Raising it further would have meant taking additional land, acquisition and planning requirements leading to further delays and considerably increased costs. The scheme will provide a significantly more resilient road than was the case previously.

The A19 between Chapel Haddlesey and Wand Lane, Eggborough, closed one year ago, on 18 February 2020, when the River Aire broke its banks during Storm Dennis.

The A19 at this point is on a causeway. It is built up because it crosses a flood plain. Strong winds during Storm Dennis caused water in the flood plain to lap across the top of the road and against the side of the carriageway. This eroded the embankment in several locations, causing some of the carriageway to subside and crack.

Despite the size of the challenge and ongoing adverse weather, the County Council highways team inspected the site as quickly as possible and engaged a highway design consultant to produce a design that would allow the contractor to begin reconstruction.

The most significant issue was that the scale of the damage was unknown. The investigation and design process were delayed by very slow dissipation of water, the availability of specialist equipment and the Covid-19 pandemic.

In June, it became clear that major diversion works were required to ensure the long-term integrity of important BT and gas services utilities located near the road and embankment. This required utility companies, including Northern Gas Networks and BT, to divert and replace their equipment.

Contractor Balfour Beatty began reconstruction in October. Since then, extensive progress has been made in excavating the old road surface and causeway as well as installing rock armour, which will provide protection against future flood damage to the overall structure of the road.

Keep up to date with progress on the scheme.

The majority of the funding is coming from the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the government’s Getting Building Fund. The LEP secured £6m from the Getting Building Fund for the scheme.