Update on Coast Road relocation project, with estimated date set for completion
A major project to move part of the Coast Road between Whitburn and South Shields to save the route from erosion is on track to be completed at the end of July, highways chiefs have confirmed.
The project will see a 500-metre section of the A183 Coast Road, between Marsden Lime Kilns and the caravan site near the Marsden Grotto, moved inland and away from the clifftops.
It comes after a survey in 2019 identified that parts of the route would be compromised in future due to the ongoing erosion of the cliff face, including the formation of caves.
The scheme has a budget of £3.15million and will bring the Coast Road inland by around 25 metres at its ‘furthest move’, with the expectation of safeguarding the busy route for another 50 years.
South Tyneside Council have said a longer-term option will be explored for the route once the new ‘realigned’ route is in place.
Work started on the Coast Road last November with an estimated completion date of summer, 2023.
As part of a presentation to councillors and local residents this week, project bosses said works were “progressing well” despite delays to the initial programme in two main areas.
This included the impact of “snow and adverse weather” during the winter period and changes to traffic management to avoid a “lengthy closure” of the Coast Road, with the introduction of two-way traffic signals.
According to the presentation given to the East Shields and Whitburn Community Area Forum (CAF) on March 16, 2023, “programmed completion is expected at the end of July 2023”.
The works follow the successful acquisition of the land in an exchange between the council and the National Trust and the appointment of contractor Howard Civil Engineering to deliver the scheme.
The scheme has also included “social value provision” from creating local jobs and supporting local events and community groups, to outreach work with borough schools.
Although the works were welcomed by councillors, some elected members raised concerns about the estimated 50-year extended lifespan the project is expected to deliver.
Councillor Eileen Leask, Horsley Hill ward member, said she was a “little doubtful” about this estimate as the “sea has a way of getting under things”.
David Pringle, project manager for the Coast Road scheme, said the estimate had been “guided by the experts” based on historic data plus climate change impacts.
The project boss added that, on average, the coast goes in “about a metre every four years” which formed predictions around the works extending the route by around 50 years.
While councillor Joyce Welsh, ward member for Whitburn and Marsden, said contractors were “doing a brilliant job” she remained sceptical about the lifespan of the route.
Cllr Welsh told the CAF: “I’ve lived in Whitburn all my life, I’ve swum in the sea, I’ve played in the rock pools and scrambled round those cliffs.
“Over the years I’ve actually seen a lot of terrible things happening to those cliffs, the sea is getting bigger if you like and we’re losing a lot of the ice caps”.
The councillor added: “I think you might find you might have to reduce [the lifespan estimate] from 50 years, I really do.
“Like I say, I know the place like the back of my hand”.
South Tyneside Council previously said specialist survey and monitoring works would be undertaken throughout the scheme to ensure there is no adverse impact on the historic Marsden Lime Kilns.
It was also confirmed that wildlife habitats within the site boundary would be reinstated once the road has been repositioned, with the existing road excavated and returned to grassland.
As part of the scheme, the existing cycle and bridleway will also be maintained along the realigned section.
For more information about the project, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/coastroad
Residents who have any queries can also contact the council’s project team on (0191) 427 7000 or email [email protected]