Work on the trial section of cobbles (also known as setts) on Front Street in Alston is now due to start in early July.
The work was originally planned for March but was put on hold due to COVID-19. A number of Cumbria County Council’s project teams and highways staff were redeployed to assist with the Council’s support for Cumbrian communities. The council is now in a position to begin the trial panel work whilst ensuring that safe social distancing measures can be adhered to, for both the workforce and members of the public.
The 2m by 6m trial panel by the Market Cross will be made of local Alston stone laid in two laying options, to test their strength and durability. Work is expected to start on Monday 6th July, and will take a minimum of six weeks to complete (depending on weather conditions). The work will be completed under traffic lights to keep traffic flowing through the town.
Excavating the existing setts, preparing the area and laying the setts is expected to take three weeks. It is vital the specialist mortar has time to harden, so on completion the site will remain under traffic light control for a further period of between three to four weeks, depending on air temperature, to allow the materials time to cure.
Following this, the county council will carry out visual monitoring and material testing of the finished surface as well as on the foundation itself. The testing will help to assess how the trial panel performs.
Cumbria County Councillor for Alston and East Fellside, Claire Driver said: “The council’s project team have been working hard to create revised delivery plans due to Covid-19 and move things forward as they know how vital this project is to the ongoing regeneration of Alston. Along with their colleagues in the Highway Operations team, the council is committed to ensuring this project remains a top priority.
“The delay to the trial panel work has however had a knock on impact to when the phase one scheme can be started. It was hoped this could be done in September this year but this is no longer possible and means that the works are now planned to begin in April next year.”
Whilst face to face drop in sessions can no longer take place due to the current COVID-19 situation, the county council and Front Street project Steering Group are exploring options to hold a virtual drop-in session to hear from members of the community following the trial panel work. Details will be shared in due course.
Cumbria County Council has committed to designing and paying for a ‘Phase One’ scheme. This will see improvements to a section of road adjacent to the Market Cross as agreed with the Front Street Steering Group. Funding is being sought for phase two work, which incorporates the areas of Front Street below and above the Market Cross.