The second stage of a major flood-prevention and protect scheme will begin on the Somerset Levels next month.
The County Council-led works are due to start on 7 April and will see four new culverts installed under the A372 at Beer Wall, to the east of Langacre Rhyne, which runs alongside the River Sowy.
At times of flood the culverts will allow water to pass beneath the road rather than over it. As well as protecting the road – which was closed for several weeks early last year due to flooding and then to accommodate emergency pumping – they will pave the way for Environment Agency work to increase capacity of the Sowy and reduce the flood risk over a wide area.
The aim is to complete the phase two work within three months but progress could be affected by weather conditions. Road closures and diversions will be put in place for 12 weeks but extended if needed.
The scheme is being carried out as part of the multi-agency Flood Action Plan, the work of which is now overseen by the new Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA).
Councillor John Osman, Chair of the SRA and Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “This is a major scheme that will play a key role in reducing the likelihood, duration and impact of any future floods. I appreciate that the road closure will, again, disrupt motorists but we ask for patience and understanding while we carry out this important work.
“Many organisations came together for this scheme and did a great job in getting the first phase of works completed before Christmas. I’m delighted that we can now finish the job.”
As well as keeping the A372 open, the three-stage Beer wall scheme is designed to reduce flood risk in the Sowy and Kings Sedgemoor Drain river systems.
Phase one, which was completed before Christmas – raising a section of the A372, cutting a section through the road which will accommodate two of the culverts, and installing a temporary bridge to keep the road open through the winter.
Phase two, which starts in April – cutting a second section cut through the road, installing four culverts and building a permanent road built over the top of them.
Phase three, which will be carried out by the EA and begin in the summer – diverting the Langacre rhyne and part of the River Sowy through the new culverts to increase the capacity of the system.
As with the first phase of works and the recently completed road raising at Muchelney, the works are being carried out by the County Council’s contractor Skanska.
Simon White, Business Director, Skanska, said: “Our team is looking forward to making a start back at Beer Wall and continuing the good work from phase one. As we start to see the back of winter we can begin the complex engineering task of installing the culverts beneath the A372.
“We are very aware that the closure of the A372 will be inconvenient for some and our teams will be working hard to complete the works as quickly as possible. This short term inconvenience will however result in greatly improved resilience of the road and surrounding area to future flooding.”
The organisations working to deliver the Flood Action Plan are: Environment Agency, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affair, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Natural England, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset County Council, Somerset Internal Drainage Boards, South Somerset District Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and Mendip District Council.
For more information about the Somerset Rivers Authority visit http://www.somersetriversauthority.org.uk/