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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Cumbria road to reopen in summer after £2m makeover

A MAJOR road revamp in Cumbria is set to be completed in summer.

Cumbria County Council has confirmed the whole of Cockermouth Main Street is planned to be open to traffic both directions by the end of June, as the programme to invest £1.7m in highways and drainage enhancement continues apace.

The major scheme, which has so far involved closing the road to vehicles both ways between Sullart Street and Station Street, is on track to allow full vehicle access in the town well before the start of the summer holidays – a key trading period for local businesses.

The currently closed section of road for phase one of works is expected to reopen to traffic in the first half of next month, at which point the second phase of work will involve the temporary closure of the road both ways from High Sand Lane to Cocker Bridge.

Thanks to a very clear commitment from contractors and highways engineers, the second section of road is now expected to have full vehicle access both ways by the end of June.

There will be ongoing remedial work and the installation of new footways during July, but the key thing is that the town – which is still very much open for business right now – will have full access for vehicles before the start of the summer holidays.

There is a massive amount of investment being put into improving the town, with the works programme the largest single highways investment scheme being delivered anywhere in the county right now. Due to the sheer scale of the works necessary, there is an element of disruption while work is underway.

Councillor Keith Little, Cabinet member for highways, said:

“I'm delighted that the main road through Cockermouth will be fully open before the summer holidays. The town still needs people's support and trade in the meantime though, so we're still encouraging people to take advantage of the free parking and visit the town while the work is still underway. Businesses need your support.

"Looking at the scale of the engineering work and the size of the emergency water storage tanks going in under the road, you can really see how this is going to make the town far more flood resilient for the future. Everyone knows it has to be done and hopefully everyone can see the end in sight."

Andy Walsh, chairman of Cockermouth Chamber of Trade, said: “I think the clarity in the deadlines is to be welcomed.

“To have Main Street open and operational by the beginning of July is great news.

“Obviously, there are ongoing works on the pavements, High Sands Lane and the Market Place but I am sure that seeing traffic moving around town again will be a great encouragement to everyone.”

Councillor Alan Smith, leader of Allerdale Borough Council, said: “It is very welcome news for Cockermouth businesses and shoppers that Main Street will be reopening sooner than many local people originally anticipated. We appreciate it was vital for the works to be carried out, but it has nonetheless been a challenging time for many Cockermouth traders, although Cumbria County Council should be applauded for making this investment in the town. I would continue to urge local people to show their support and go shopping in the town.”

The Cockermouth Main Street scheme is funded through the Department for Transport's flood recovery money. It is improving the surface water drainage system, with larger diameter drains making the town more flood-resilient for the future. The county council has used the opportunity of this major work to make wider improvements to the road infrastructure, footways and street lighting.

The contractor carrying out the work for Cumbria County Council has already increased the length of their working day to 11-hour shifts.

Pedestrian access has been maintained to shops and Allerdale Borough Council and Cumbria County Council have introduced a free parking scheme while work is ongoing to encourage people to continue to visit and shop in the town.

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