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New plea to reopen Beaminster Tunnel
AS frustration grows over protracted negotiations with land-owners, a plea has been made to reopen Beaminster tunnel as soon as possible – even if only with a traffic-light controlled one- way system.
County councillor Rebecca Knox said she was visiting the site nearly on a daily basis to see what progress was being made.
She said: “Yes, there are delays into June, which is extremely frustrating.
“I would just wish that the legals would come to the completion of the negotiations they need to do, so that the highways teams can get onto the slopes and carry out the specialist engineering works that need to take place on the slopes.
“I am going up there nearly every day because I am concerned that people are seeing nothing happening.
“I want to see work done on that tunnel and get it open – whether it is restricted one way or another.
“As the progress continues, the teams need to continually assess the way to open the road to one lane traffic with traffic lights, so that cars might at least be able to travel through earlier than when the whole works have finished.”
She also wants work to go on seven days a week, including at night, if possible.
She added: “Negotiations with landowners have been going on for eight months.
“It does seem an extremely long time. I would just plead that the engineers can get onto the site properly as soon as possible.
“We have a community so frustrated and it is not just Beaminster. There are diversion routes for all sorts of businesses in the area. It is not just inconvenient – it is causing a change of life.”
Masterchef Mat Follas said he will be making his decision in the next two weeks whether his Wild Garlic restaurant stays in the town.
Coun Knox said: “I really hope he stays, he is a wonderful asset for the town. I would do everything I could to possibly help him stay.”
Dorset County Council says it now has access to most of the land after negotiations with landowners.
Work has taken place to make sure the heavy machinery needed to do the soil nailing, which will keep the loose soil in place and prevent future landslips, can get close to the entrances of the tunnel.
Contractors will start the soil nailing on April 2 – about 1,000 will be used to pin the slopes. Since December contractors have cleared the area above the tunnel’s north end, improved the drainage, tested the soil nails and worked to make access easier for the main works to begin.
County councillor Peter Finney, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “We are aware of the urgency to get the road open as soon as possible and staff are working hard to make up time.
“This is a very complex engineering problem and it is extremely important that we get it right for the safety of people who use the tunnel.”