Wooden-clad crash barriers for Lakeland pass

Wooden-clad environment sensitive crash barriers are being installed on an iconic Lakeland route as part of a multi-million pounds road safety project.

The barriers on Kirkstone Pass will be the first of their type on a major road in Cumbria.

Kirkstone Pass is in the heart of the Lake District National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and great care is being taken to ensure the current safety improvement works includes new infrastructure that complements the stunning surroundings.

The work to install the new barriers is part of the latest phase of the scheme, along with drain repairs, which started this week (6 December) and require a further series of scheduled overnight closures.

The works have been ongoing under traffic light controls since the last full closure in October, but the nature of the works in this latest phase mean the whole road will need to be closed to vehicles Monday to Friday, from 9pm until 7am. These overnight closures will be in place until works are stood down for the Christmas break on 20 December.Wooden clad crash barriers on the side of a road with a forest as the backdrop

The overnight closures – again Monday to Friday, from 9pm until 7am – will resume in the new year on Wednesday, 3 January, until Friday, 19 January 2024.

The road will be completely closed during the overnight works, which means that for safety reasons all vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists are not permitted to access the area where contractors will be working and barriers will be in place.

During the daytime there will be manned traffic lights in operation, seven days a week, to help vehicles safely pass through the areas of roadworks.

Throughout road maintenance and improvements, it is crucial all road users prioritise safety and exercise caution when encountering the traffic lights.  The traffic lights play a vital role in regulating the flow of vehicles and ensuring a smooth and organised traffic system.  By being mindful at the traffic lights, road users, pedestrians, and cyclists can contribute to the overall safety of everyone on the road.

The ongoing Department for Transport (DfT) ‘Safer Roads Project’ on Kirkstone Pass, which is being managed by Westmorland and Furness Council, includes building new drainage and culverts, resurfacing and installing the new wooden-clad safety crash barriers and ‘catchpits’ to collect scree washed off the fells.

Latest work by contractors Metcalfes has included installing 110 metres of carriageway drainage with 15 road crossings, 15 catch pits and gullies have been created, concrete poured for the plinths for the new safety barriers and 20 tonnes of resurfacing tar has been laid.

Previous phases have already delivered more than 200 metres of new stone walling, along with improved signage and three new lay-bys.

The work will help to protect the road from the effects of flooding and adverse weather and increase the safety and resilience of the route, especially during winter, resulting in fewer enforced closures in the future.

Careful planning means the works have been scheduled around the busiest school holiday periods, to minimise the impact on tourism businesses in one of the most popular areas of the Lake District.

A further full road closure is scheduled to take place from 1 March 2024, to complete the resurfacing work. This closure will continue for four weeks, subject to weather conditions. Further details regarding road diversions will be provided closer to the time of the closure.

Councillor Peter Thornton, Westmorland and Furness Council’s Cabinet member for Highways and Assets, said: “The installation of the new wooden-clad barriers is another example of the great care that is being taken in this project to respect the beautiful environment around Kirkstone Pass.

“This is an important project on a very important road and it will ensure the pass will be in better condition and will be better protected from flooding and other weather-related impacts, so will be less prone to winter closures.

“All that is good news for the local communities and businesses that rely on this route and for the many people who visit the area to appreciate that natural beauty.

“We have also been working closely with the local community and businesses in the area to try to minimise disruption caused by this essential safety work and I want to thank them for their continued support and patience.

“This is a complex project being carried out in a restricted location and, as the recent weather event has demonstrated, it is subject to some extreme challenges.’’

More information about the Safer Roads scheme at Kirkstone Pass, including answers to frequently asked questions, can be found on the council’s website.

To watch a video explaining more about the scheme, including footage of the most recent works and drone ‘flyover’ footage of Kirkstone Pass highlighting some of the key issues being addressed visit the Westmorland and Furness Council YouTube Channel.

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