The current ‘emergency’ closure of Thurgoland Bank has been in place for more than a year with highways bosses citing a landslip as the reason for the order.
The problem, according to Penistone East Coun Robert Barnard, is ‘more complex’ than first thought and is believed to affect the foundations of the road which connects Springvale, Oxspring and Thurgoland.
And it’s now been decided that £497,000 of unallocated cash from the local authority’s Highways Capital Programme will be put towards the repairs. The programme of works for 2022/23 will be formally agreed next month, but this cash comes from the 2021/22 programme.
The estimated cost of road maintenance for 2021/22 was £14.29m, according to a council report, with £2.36m spent of a £3.2m allocation for carriageway maintenance.
Principal roads - including nearby Halifax Road and Rag Lane - were given £4.32m.
Coun Barnard said: “It’s more complex than simply repairing a road, unfortunately.
“It’s the underpinning foundations of the road that are slipping away, probably in my opinion caused by an underground watercourse.
“You can tell there must be watercourses in the area and elsewhere in Thurgoland because of the road names like Springwood and Spring Terrace. I would think it was probably a track before roads were made, possibly 19th century.
“It’s not normal to have this kind of landslip - we had a small amount there four years ago, when the farmer noticed his fence kept slipping away and was no longer vertical.
“The road itself didn’t appear to be damaged at that time.
“During normal roadworks you don’t have to rebuild the foundations - you don’t usually have to do any more than resurfacing.
“If the foundation is giving away, there’s a danger that with any heavy good vehicles using it, it will collapse.”
Thurgoland Bank had been the site of several collisions and requests for road safety reviews before its closure, with sections of the road resurfaced but others left in poor condition.
The closure has been pushing more traffic towards the busy Four Lane Ends junction - also the site of a recent collision and generally deemed ‘an accident waiting to happen’ by locals.
“It’s increasing traffic flow through a very difficult crossroads, where we’ve had a number of accidents - quite often serious ones,” added Coun Barnard. “It’s also increasing the number of heavy goods vehicles. The closure has never exactly been in the best interests of road safety. It’s been raised by residents quite frequently, and the two parish councils in the area are always asking when it can be reopened.
“We’re hoping the works are going to be completed by this spring.”
Cllr Chris Lamb, Cabinet Spokesperson for Environment and Transport, said: “We want to apologise to residents and businesses that have been unable to use the road during this time.
“This is a challenging site because of the angle of the land, and overhead power cables that supply local communities are immediately above it.
“However, we’re confident we’ve designed a solution.
“We’re building a deep, reinforced concrete wall next to the road using concrete cylindric piles. We’re also reconstructing the existing road, which will require work to excavate two meters below the current road surface.
“Work will start shortly, and we plan to have it complete and reopened by early summer.”