Engineers tackle underwater potholes

Monks Ford - work in progress

Using sandbags and pumps to fill in potholes at the bottom of Monks Ford

Filling in potholes is usually a straightforward job – but not when they lie at the bottom of the fast-flowing River Axe.

Somerset County Council’s highways engineers faced an unusual challenge recently when maintaining the road at Monks Ford near Wookey.

Several deep potholes had formed within the ford and some specialist repair techniques were required.

Due to the location of the potholes and the amount of water involved, first it was necessary to divert the flow of the stream around the affected areas using sandbags and pumps.

All the loose and cracked material was then removed and replaced using new concrete, reinforcing bars and mesh to provide a long term solution.

This operation was far from straightforward, and work had to be temporarily postponed last week when heavy rain caused the water levels to rise above the defences. However, the team were still able to complete the work and reopen the road two days ahead of schedule.

Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “Repairing a pothole is usually a relatively simple job and indeed our highways teams fill in around 25,000 every year.

“What is less simple is when the road runs through a fast-flowing river and the pothole is right in the middle.

“Although there are a number of fords in Somerset, this type of work is relatively rare – and gives a fascinating insight into the many challenges facing our highways teams every day.”

Monks Ford - work flooded 2

Work temporarily abandoned due to heavy rain

Monks Ford - work flooded 1

Monks Ford - work complete

Work complete – with a smooth road surface under the water at Monks Ford