AFTER being closed for nearly three years, a Teignbridge link road has finally reopened.
The Ashburton Road, which links Brimley in Bovey Tracey with nearby Liverton was closed in February 2020 after a landslip made the road impassable.
The closure caused particular misery for residents of the adjacent New Park housing estate, many of them elderly who, instead of making a short trip into Bovey Tracey, faced a six-mile detour.
Colin Back, chairman of the New Park Community Association, said that while the closure had made ‘life difficult’, he understood the problems the engineers had to overcome and thanked them for keeping residents regularly updated.
‘It’s been very hard for some residents who relied on deliveries and found prices have risen sharply,’ he said.
‘It’s also been especially hard for those without their own transport who wanted to visit doctors. Taxi fares have risen and the long round trip only added to their costs.
‘Many residents chose to go on to Newton Abbot for their shopping so I think the Bovey shops will begin feel the benefit once again.’
The area was extensively mined and quarried in the last century and it’s believed the collapse was caused by this.
Devon County Council engineers spent a considerable time investigating the area in case the collapse was spreading and ascertaining whether further collapses were going to take place.
Colin said: ‘‘The closure of this section for more than two and a half years made life difficult for the residents of New Park, our families, friends, support services and trades people. Thank you to the community of New Park for your patience and perseverance.
‘Meg Booth, DCC’s director of climate change, environment and transport, has been brilliant, keeping in touch with us and attending every meeting. And I can’t praise the workmen enough. in fact we ended up on first-name terms with them.
‘They helped some of our residents carrying their shopping and ensured dog walkers were able to get by. I’d also like to thank engineers James Stanley and Elliott Flynn of Devon Highways for their support and keeping us up to date through regular Zoom meetings and more recently with site meetings.’
In advance of the opening, Colin and other members of the Community Association joined county councillors and engineers on a ‘walkabout’ prior to the reopening of the road, among them Devon County Council’s cabinet (DCC) member for highway management Cllr Stuart Hughes, and local member Cllr George Gribble.
They saw how changes that had been made to the original line of the road, including a new hedgerow and fence line, and heard some of the difficulties that the team had encountered along the way.
Cllr Hughes said that public safety was ‘paramount’, and they had no choice other than to close the road to vehicles: ‘I want to thank the residents, and I’m grateful for their patience,’ he said. ‘It’s been a lot more complicated than just realigning a section of road.
‘There was extensive damage to the highway and the area’s extensive history of mining raised significant safety concerns over the stability of the ground beneath the road. We had to consider the very real possibility that there could be former mining tunnels and features beneath the surface.’
Cllr Gribble said: ‘I’m delighted that the road is finally going to reopen. It’s been difficult to access local amenities and residents have had to drive an extra six miles as part of their round trip. I would also like to thank residents of New Park for their forbearance.’
Colin added: ‘One of the first trips many of our residents will be making is to the Christmas tea at Bovey Tracey Methodist Church later this month. It promises to be well worth the journey as we’ll be entertained by the Newton Abbot Ukulele Band!’