Cheddar Gorge has now reopened to traffic – just days after the road was badly damaged by severe weather and flooding.
The B3135 through the Gorge was first closed on Sunday afternoon when water, mud and rock began to pour off neighbouring land, turning the road into a river and making it unsafe for vehicles.
This continued to worsen on Monday and left the highway partially buried under a considerable amount of debris.
Somerset County Council’s highways teams were on the scene as soon as possible on Tuesday and used JCBs to clear the road so a full inspection could take place. Sedgemoor District Council also assisted by providing a road sweeper.
This identified a significant void under the road near Horseshoe Bend where the floodwater had literally undercut the road by up to two metres. Teams were deployed to excavate the road, fill the hole with rock and then rebuild and re-tarmac the road surface so it could reopen.
Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “The dramatic photos of Cheddar Gorge earlier this week show the devastating power of nature which literally washed away part of the road.The fact that our highways team have been able to react so quickly and repair the road should not take away from the scale of the job. This was significant damage and it’s testament to the hard work and skill of the team that we’ve been able to fix this and reopen the road in such a short space of time. I’d also like to thank the local caving community who did a fantastic job clearing a sinkhole above the Gorge so the water could flow underground as it should, rather than down the road. Without their efforts, the damage could have been far worse.”
The scale of the flooding issue at Cheddar Gorge is described in our earlier article. The main sink was clear on Saturday but became completely overwhelmed by the amount of rainwater on Sunday and Monday. Ali Moody, one of the Longwood Valley Sink diggers and Neil Watson and James Ozolins from Somerset Wildlife Trust were on the scene as soon as it was safe on Tuesday and cleared the sink to allow the floodwater to return underground. The grill was cleared again the following day as more debris had washed down the stream.
The road closure at Cheddar was just one of the many incidents dealt with by Somerset County Council’s highways teams this week as the county was battered by severe wet and windy weather.
With more than 500 calls in 48 hours, many roads were affected and the public were kept informed with regular updates via @TravelSomerset on Twitter and on their dedicated bad weather page.
Correspondent: Linda Wilson, with thanks to Somerset County Council for their update.