Compensation over crumbling bypass?

Stoke Hammond bypass A4146
Stoke Hammond bypass A4146

Bucks County Council says it will consider taking up the ongoing saga of the crumbling A4146 Stoke Hammond Bypass with the original contractor who built it if problems persist.

The bypass was opened up to drivers in September 2007 but ever since the dual carriageway has been beset with large cracks and potholes.

This continues to be the case this year, despite a mild winter.

The road surface has undergone immediate repairs recently to keep the route safe for drivers and the council says it will complete wider-scale repairs once the weather gets warmer.

Motorists are also being advised of a partial closure of the bypass for essential repairs to be made to the safety fencing.

The council has confirmed there will be a partial closure from Monday, January 30, for two weeks, to allow the work to be carried out.

Councillor Mark Shaw, Buckingham County Council Transport Cabinet Member said: “Once we’re out of this current cold snap, we’ll be looking to do some wider-scale repairs, which will involve closing a lane.

“This will allow us to do a full assessment and determine how long the repairs will take.

“It’s the safest way to do the works, and in the end we’ll have a much better surface.”

In June 2015 the LBO ran a story about the £60 million dual carriageway being forensically analysed three times a week as rapidly forming defects appeared on the surface.

Councillor Shaw added the bypass was one of the main roads the county council now routinely inspected every month.

He said: “These inspections throw up a wide range of issues, which vary from road to road, depending on factors such as ground conditions, surface material and usage.

“These can manifest as large potholes, failed ironwork, or edges of roads falling away, and we usually undertake to attend to these by the end of the next working day to solve the problems.

“With Stoke Hammond bypass, our monthly inspections have found small potholes, which quickly become large potholes, in the surface of the slow lane, and we’re repairing these as quickly as possible, with a view to resurfacing when it’s warmer and the temperatures allow asphalt to be laid more effectively.

“Over time, if our inspections lead us to the conclusion that the road surface is performing poorly through design or original materials used, then of course we’d consider taking this up with the contractor.”

One motorist commented: “The bypass is great and has benefited a lot of people but the trouble is it can be very dangerous.

“The pot holes can be quite big, it is an accident waiting to happen with the amount of cyclists and motorcyclists that use the road.”

Facebook users commenting on the Leighton Buzzard Observer page have questioned whether Buckinghamshire County Council has considered taking action in relation to the original construction of the road by Alfred McAlpine.

Councillor David Bowater, chairman of Central Bedfordshire Council, posted: “Surely consulting engineers were appointed to oversee the construction. Their professional liability insurance should take a bit of a hammering!”

Andy Taylor said: “Need to seek compensation from the original civil engineers who signed off the project. This has been a mild winter.”

Leighton Buzzard Society added: “For a road not yet 10 years old, it is appalling and is more like an obstacle course as you avoid craters!”

The county council has also highlighted a list of works planned along the route in the next few weeks.

This includes pavement and drainage work between the Wing roundabout and the Newton Longville roundabout between February 6 and 17 which will involve a temporary lane closure on both sides of the road. The council says it will take advantage of the closed lanes to install some new lighting.

> The LBO attempted to contact Alfred McAlpine but could not get through to the company before our deadline.