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Private toll road to provide relief for landslide-damaged A431

Construction of a private toll road to bypass the closed section of landslide-damaged A431 has led to warnings from the local council over the safety of the route.

Local businessman Mike Watts has said that work to build a bypass on his land will be completed at the end of this month and he will charge motorists £2 to use the route and avoid the current 16km diversion, which has been in place since the ground instability started in February.

“This is going to help Bath and Bristol be reconnected,” he said. “This just relieves the pressure on everybody.”

However, Bath and North East Somerset Council has said in a statement that it has no details to confirm the toll road design meets safety standards and no evidence that insurances are in place for any member of the public using the private toll road. The council has also raised concerns about the impact of traffic loading on the land above the slip and have said it is not in a position to support the temporary road option.

The council has said that its highway maintenance contractor Skanska is due to start piling work to secure the damaged section of road later this month. The work involves driving 60mm diamter piles to depths of up to 15m along the south side of the road to provide stability. The council has said that this work rules out a temporary bypass as an option because the piling rigs will occupy the land that the temporary road would need.

The council has said that its repair work could not start until now because the ground only stopped moving in June. Extensive ground investigation was carried out in April and it is estimated the current work, which will cost £1.5M to £2M, will be completed by the end of the year.

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