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Sinkhole leads to emergency road closure in Weardale

Published May 14, 2019 2.02pm

An emergency road closure is in place in Upper Weardale due to subsidence.

Wearhead road closure

The A689 has been closed in the interests of public safety after a sinkhole appeared

We have closed the A689 at Wearhead today (Tuesday) in the interests of public safety and signs have been put up to notify motorists.

Temporary diversions will be in place from tomorrow morning (Wednesday) to allow for further investigations and repairs. Signs will be put up in Stanhope and Alston advising people of the closure and directing them to an alternative route. Those travelling west can take the B6278 from Stanhope to Middleton-in-Teesdale and then on the B62777 to Alston. Heading east, the diversion will follow the opposite route.

The diversion will add 16 miles to the journey, so the public should allow extra time when travelling.

For more information about road closures in County Durham, visit the Roadworks, road closures and improvement schemes page.

A shorter local diversion will also be in place within Wearhead for residents and the emergency services. This is less than two miles but is not suitable for heavy goods vehicles and coaches.

The footpath remains open for pedestrians, while cyclists can pass through by dismounting and proceeding on foot.


A 3.5m-deep void has been discovered under the road

The sinkhole is located on the eastbound carriageway and appears to have been caused by a collapsed culvert, originally constructed to remove water from mine workings.

However, preliminary investigations have identified a more extensive void, approximately 3.5 metres deep and two metres wide and spanning most of the road. This meant we had no alternative but to close the road immediately to protect the public.

Update: 17 May 2019

Engineers have carried out detailed investigations of the "sinkhole" on the A689.

The hole is five metres deep and four metres wide, but we are now in a position to begin repairs, starting on Saturday morning (18 May).

The aim is to have the road reopened by Sunday 26 May. Thank you for your patience. and understanding.

A matter of urgency

John Reed, our head of technical services, said: "We realise that this closure will cause significant disruption, but it is a necessary step to take as the safety of the public is paramount.

"We would like to reassure people that the repairs will be carried out as a matter of urgency but, as investigations into the cause of the subsidence are ongoing, the road could be closed for up to two weeks.

"We are very grateful to the public for their understanding and patience during this time."

Discussions are ongoing with public transport operators delivering services in Upper Weardale. Currently services are terminating at Vedra Close in Wearhead, as the local diversion is not suitable for buses and coaches.

Alternative arrangments

Alternative arrangements have also been made for school transport. The Wolsingham School bus will pick up from Vedra Close and a taxi shuttle service will be established to and from Wearhead for pupils living in the Cowshill area. Pupils also have the option to walk along the footpath from Cowshill to Wearhead, a distance of 0.9 miles.

The closure is not expected to impact greatly on Wearhead Primary School and Alston Primary School pupils, as the school minibuses are small and can use the local diversion.

Schools are informing pupils and parents of the changes to transport arrangements, and council staff will be visiting all 30 properties near the closure. Further updates will be provided as work progresses.


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