Council apologises for Wilstead bypass delay

A6 closure July 22

Bedford Borough Council has published an update and apology to Wilstead residents, after the completion of the A6 bypass has been delayed by three months.

The delay has been described by the Council’s Conservative group as, “totally unacceptable.”

The leaflet to residents explains that due to historical issues with the drainage system, more extensive repairs are needed than were indicated in the pre-work survey, meaning work will now be completed in March 2020.

The affected stretch of the bypass to the south of Bedford was closed on 22 July in order for work to rebuild the road took place.

Traffic has been diverted along the A507 and A600 through Cotton End, causing disruption to residents, commuters and drivers.

Read: Work on stretch of A6 “too dangerous to use” started today

The leaflet states, “Over the next few weeks, work will continue to build the new road from the Luton Road direction and the new drainage system will be completed.

“Unfortunately, there have been a number of issues at the site, which mean that the work is going to take longer than was originally anticipated.

“Since we undertook on-site testing of the existing drainage system for the road, it has become apparent that the existing pipe system, formed from filter drains next to the road, is not fit for purpose and is in a much worse state than indicated in pre-works surveys and testing.

“We have found that there are unsealed joints between the pipes and that the wrong type of pipe was used when the road was constructed by the former County Council. This has meant that over the years water has not been taken away from the road and consequently the ground beneath the road has been saturated.

“This is why in recent years there has been so much movement in the road and why large cracks appeared in the road last year.

“It has therefore been necessary to change the original design for the road to make sure that the road foundation is strong enough to cope with the amount of traffic that uses the A6, which has meant that we need to dig deeper beneath the road.

“We also need to carry out more extensive repairs to the drainage system than previously expected to make sure that the existing problems are fixed.

“Unfortunately digging out more material and replacing the drainage system will take longer than we had previously envisaged. The completion date for the project has therefore had to be moved from early December 2019 to the end of March 2020.

“We know that this news is not what you will want to hear and we apologise for the ongoing disruption that this work is going to cause you. However, please be assured we are working with the contractor to try to reduce the length of the programme and we are hopeful that an earlier finish can still be achieved.”

In response, Conservative group leader, Cllr Graeme Coombes, said, “Wilstead residents are going to be mightily cheesed off that A6 traffic is going to continue to be diverted through their village for another three months.

“The Borough Council really should have got it’s act together and done some proper and thorough investigation when they originally decided to do the A6 Wilstead bypass repairs.

“To come back just a few weeks before the road was scheduled to reopen, is totally unacceptable.”

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