Landslip repair work in running for major engineering award

An innovative scheme to stabilise a key Exmoor road after three major landslips has been shortlisted for a top engineering award.

Somerset County Council faced a tricky challenge in late 2014 following two landslips on the A396 at Cutcombe Hill and Oaktrow Wood. There are few alternative routes in this remote part of West Somerset and a solution was needed where the road could be kept open to traffic, despite narrow road widths and steep embankments.

A396 before

The three A396 sites pictured before work began

Crestmoor Construction were contracted to develop a design and build engineering scheme which would keep disruption to a minimum. The innovative design included gabion baskets supported by both piles and rock anchors.

A396drawing

Shortly after work began, the task was further complicated when storms caused a massive 80ft beech tree to collapse into the River Exe at Kent’s Wood. This meant a third problem on the A396 to be resolved. (You can find out more about this work at https://somersetnewsroom.com/2015/06/04/crane-fishes-80ft-tree-from-river-exe/)

Work continued on all three sites simultaneously and the overall stabilisation scheme was completed in June 2015 – without the need for any road closures.

A396 after

The three sites once work was completed

This feat has now been recognised by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) who have shortlisted the scheme in the Projects Under £1million category at the 2016 South West Civil Engineering Awards.

The project is also one of 30 schemes in the running for the ICE South West People’s Choice Award – chosen by members of the public.

Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “This was a very challenging and complex scheme and it’s wonderful to be recognised by the industry experts who know a thing or two about engineering.

“If you’re not sure what a gabion basket or rock anchor is, please have a look at the photos and drawings which show very clearly the scale of the job. To have carried out this type of work without any road closures is some achievement, and I hope members of the Somerset public will show their support by voting in the People’s Choice Award too.”

Peter Radford, Technical Director at Crestmoor, said: “It is always a privilege to work for the people of Somerset and a particular pleasure to work on Exmoor.  The collaboration with Somerset County Council to ensure the job met the local needs was very rewarding but we must also sincerely thank the Exmoor communities affected for their patience and enthusiastic support.”

The winners will be revealed at a special ceremony in Plymouth on 7 July and presented with their awards by ICE President, Sir John Armitt CBE.

To cast your vote in the People’s Choice Award and be in with a chance of winning a Sony DSCH300 Digital Camera, visit: https://www.ice.org.uk/near-you/uk/south-west/awards/civil-engineering-awards.