West Sussex County Council has thanked all those who attended the public meeting about the A29 closure on Monday 27 February. We appreciate those who took the time to engage with our representatives and ask questions about the landslide and resulting closure. It was a useful and insightful meeting which we took a lot away from.
We fully appreciate the frustrations felt by local residents about the ongoing situation and the resulting inconvenience along with the hardship felt by businesses in the area. Please be assured that the County Council is doing everything it can to progress a solution to this issue as quickly as possible.
As outlined during the meeting, the complexity of the issue is not in the engineering, which our technical team advise is relatively straightforward to resolve. The situation is unusual in that the embankments on both sides of the cutting are not within the County Council’s control. They are not adopted highway land and are owned by private landowners, and it is this private land that has slipped with the embankments remaining unstable.
This has resulted in a longer than anticipated timeline as we have had to engage in a period of discussions and negotiations with the landowners to allow us to access their land and undertake the works. These discussions are ongoing and are productive. It is appropriate that before we utilise any statutory powers to enter the land and do the works, we must allow sufficient time for the landowners to fully explore the implications on their property and understand what is required before they come to an agreement with us.
Councillor Joy Dennis, Cabinet member for Highways and Transport says, “We do appreciate how frustrating this is for everyone affected but please be assured we are taking the best technical advice and doing everything we can to expediate the process. Our primary objective is to ensure that the road can be reopened for use safely by all road users.
“When the incident occurred, the County Council acted swiftly to close to road to ensure safety and put into place a temporary diversion. Once it became clear that a solution couldn’t be implemented quickly, our team implemented a more robust road closure and worked with our network coordination team to agree a longer-term diversion route which takes in to account the suitability of the alternative route for all vehicle types.
“We continue to monitor the official diversion along with those local roads being used as unofficial alternative routes, carrying out repairs and implement temporary measures such as parking restrictions as needed.”
The solution presented at the meeting was that once an agreement had been reached with the landowners, which we are hoping for this week, we will immediately implement temporary repairs which we anticipate will take approximately two weeks to complete. This temporary solution, which will reopen the road and allow for two-way traffic under temporary traffic lights, is one which has received support from local residents.
There are a further two phases to resolve this permanently, with the complete repair to be completed once a design and programme has been agreed with key local stakeholders. Our objective is to have the road open to two-way traffic as quickly as possible and maintain that whilst the permanent solution is designed.