The closure of almost a mile stretch of the A19 at Chapel Haddlesey, near Selby, has caused widespread disruption for motorists and residents after the River Aire broke its banks during Storm Dennis in February last year, eroding the embankment and causing the carriageway to subside and crack.
The repairs were set back by both the Covid-19 pandemic and severe weather earlier this year, but they have been completed ahead of schedule by North Yorkshire County Council’s contractors, Balfour Beatty.
Water levels on the road took weeks to subside – and it took a month for a full visual inspection to be possible of the damage.
Coun Don Mackenzie, the council’s executive member for access, said: “We understand the impact of the A19’s closure on the lives of people in the area, so we did everything we could to reopen it as quickly as possible.
“When storms earlier this year affected the construction schedule, we responded with additional investment that meant our contractor could work longer days and weekends as daylight hours lengthened. They not only clawed back the lost time, but enabled us to reopen the road five days ahead of our planned completion date.”
Highways area manager, James Malcolm, said the £7.9m project was “one of the most substantial pieces of civil engineering” undertaken in North Yorkshire.
Work was delayed by the slow dissipation of water, the availability of specialist equipment and the pandemic. Some 30,000 tonnes of rock armour was placed on the embankment shoulders to protect against flooding.
In the layers beneath the new road surface is 12,361 tonnes of porous material that allows floodwater to drain away, with another 10,514 tonnes of material that acts as a drainage layer.
The A19 spans 124 miles from Doncaster to Seaton Burn, near Newcastle, where it joins the A1.
Harry Campey, a Selby-based haulage transport manager, said: “Two large customers of ours are located in Eggborough, which is the other side of the closure, so it has been a bit of an issue, but this is going to really reopen the town back up for tourism, trade and business. It is going to connect Selby back up and open it up to everybody.”
And Jane Burns, the landlady of the Jug Inn at Chapel Haddlesey, added: “We are a country community pub, serving all the local villages around us, but Eggborough, Hensall, Whitley and that area haven’t been able to come without going a long way round, which has put them off coming here, particularly in the winter months.”