A 'major emergency project' is now underway to replace a section of culvert running under Cliff Road, Salcombe which partially collapsed causing severe flooding during recent storms.
The project, likely to cost over £100,000, is now urgently needed to prevent flooding of Salcombe’s main sewerage pumping station on land behind North Sands Beach.
Flooding alerts are going out again this week as more heavy rain and exceptionally high spring tides are expected this weekend.
The project, a joint operation by South Hams District Council, Devon County Council and South West Water, is likely to mean that Cliff Road will remain closed to all traffic bar pedestrians for around two months.
Salcombe Councillor Paul Coulson said: “South Hams Council is acutely aware of the disruption to residents and businesses south of North Sands and are making every effort to ensure that the road reopens before the Easter holidays.”
Residents on the southern side of the North Sands will face a five mile diversion to get into Salcombe.
South Hams Executive Member for Assets Councillor Hilary Bastone said: “We can only apologise for the closure of Cliff Road to vehicles. However it’s really important to renew this culvert so that we can ensure we don’t have any problems in future.”
The specialist team is being led South Hams District Council’s Engineering Manager Chris Brook, who since the emergency began and high volume pumps were brought into ensure that the nearby pumping station and the flooded Winking Prawn Cafe was kept free of water, has been designing the culvert’s replacement and working with the other partners to ensure that the emergency funding is in place and being spent wisely.
He said the problems had been caused by a partial collapse of the culvert and further blockages from sand and seaweed driven in by the recent storms. Normally flood waters drove out the seaweed and sand, but this time the further collapse made it impossible for Council crews to clear the blockage.
Said Chris: “The only way to clear the collapse would be to dig up the road. It is only sensible at this point to replace the whole culvert. The new one will be an 18 metre box concrete precast culvert placed two metres beneath road level to replace the old one. It will be 1.25m wide and 1.75m high.
“One of the problems we face is that we have discovered the foundations of the road are made up of large boulders so the excavation by a 20 tonne excavator is likely to be much wider than width of the new culvert.”
A total of 90metres of the old culvert will be removed and the stream diverted along a new river bed down the side of the Council’s car park to feed into the new culvert to make a more attractive feature of the watercourse. Further planting may enhance the banks at a future date.
The work is being carried out by Devon County’s own South West Highways team. Delivery of the new precast culvert is likely within a couple of weeks