After what seems like months - it was I suppose - the end of the chaos is finally in sight. This report shows how the work is progressing, and explains a little of what has been done since the end of July.

I spent a little time with Kevin Tyrebuck of Laser Civil Engineering, on Wednesday 28th November, to see what had been done, and what remained to be done on the site. I have to say that I was very impressed with the scale of the task they have undertaken, and the standards they are working to.

Work started, as you probably remember, almost imediately after the rain stopped, but before any reconstruction could be done, a huge clear up operation was needed. First, the site had to be secured to make it as safe as possible, then the debris from the washed-out road, and from the surrounding countryside had to be cleared. Trees left without soil had to be removed to prevent further damage to service ducts and pipes. Other contractors had to re-instate water, power and telecoms links, but not all of these could be completely re-routed and had to be worked around. Then the hole in the roadway could be stabilised.

Unlike most 'normal' civil engineering projects, there could be no forward planning for this job, and you can't just buy 100 feet of road, an embankment and a bridge from your local DIY store! Before reconstruction work could be started, the engineers at Halcrow had to prepare a plan, do calculations, and make drawings for Laser to work to. Plant, materials and welfare facilities had to be arranged on site, and the major components of the culvert had to be ordered. There were environmental issues to be addressed too - you can't just bung a stream up, the water has to be carried across the works all the time, and extra pumps are needed on stand-by in case of heavy rain.

Because the lead-time for having cast concrete tunnel sections made was too long, the engineers chose a sealed corrugated steel liner for the under road section. This was assembled from sections and is as big as a tube train tunnel. The floor is concrete and rock, and ledges along each side allow badgers and other wildlife to cross the road through the tunnel in safety. Steel ties pass through the back-fill from side to side to stop the walls from spreading and galvanised steel gabions, filled with stone, reinforce the banks on either side, and retain the back-fill. The brick work which finishes the tunnel portals is being laid at the moment and almost finished on the south side. It will be built up to form parapets which will be finished with coping stones.

When I visited the site, the back-fill was almost up to the final level and comprises graded hardcore which was chosen to enhance the strength of the tunnel. Laser anticipate that the tarmac gang will begin laying the surface next week, but the final work on site will not be completed until late January.

It is hoped that the road will be partially open for traffic around the 10th December.

Pictures taken on Saturday 24th November 2007

Pictures taken on Wednesday 28th November 2007