Club’s bypass tour shows road progress

Carillion and Morpeth Bypass
Carillion and Morpeth Bypass

MORPETH ROTARY cLUB

On a wet and breezy day, 15 members and friends from Morpeth Rotary Club followed up an invitation from Carillion to visit some of its working sites on the 3.8km Morpeth Bypass development.

This was a follow up to an excellent talk by civil engineers Mark Smith and Adam Robson. The talk and the visit were both arranged by civil engineer Rotary member Peter Scott.

Visitors assembled at Compound 1 at Fairmoor, at the north end of Morpeth, to hear what progress had been made on the road and to ask any questions, before braving the worsening weather. Our host was Alan Elliot, who gave us a warm welcome, tea, coffee and a map.

We were shown the drone footage from the last monthly survey of work done. The drone is set to fly on exactly the same path each time. The pilot follows by car and must drive at no more than 500m from it.

Mark and Adam brought us up to date. Since January, the How Burn has had a six square metre box culvert put in place. Excavations have started for the A1 Bridge, and traffic has been diverted. Problems to overcome include cables running along both sides of the A1 and a large water main.

Some Tarmac work has been done, but there is a need to wait before completion as the road must be allowed to settle. It has already settled by over a foot. There is a Tarmac generating plant on site to allow easy supply.

It was hoped that there would be an early completion, but the planned end date of March 2017 is now the most likely.

The company considers it important to support charity and the community where it works. Carillion apprentices, working with a site engineer, built a pond for All Saints First School, volunteers from Carillion will help to complete pathways for Tommy’s Field Allotments, and Carillion staff helped to get £500 for balance bikes for Sustrans to teach children to ride safely. Last year it supported Barnardos, and for the rest of the project it will be supporting the local hospice.

Our transport was in two modern 4x4s and a smart, but less robust, new minibus. Three site visits were made. The first was to St Leonard’s Junction, where part of the busy A1 had just been removed. There were digging machines and a crane overlooking a large excavation. This is to put an underpass and roundabouts under the main road. Traffic will be diverted for six months while the underpass bridge is built.

The second stop was towards the Cotting Burn Bridge, near to St George’s roundabout. The 4x4s managed to drive over the last piece of very rough ground and much closer to the action and activity, while the minibus had to stay further back.

Finally there was a drive to Whorral bank roundabout and the Pegswood bypass, then from there along the route of the new road towards Morpeth.

A stop was made at a working site by Pegswood Moor Embankment, but the vehicles could go no further because of some rough ground near a new concrete bridge.

Carillion very kindly sent a photo taken from the drone.

At the end of the trip there was only time to say a hurried thank you and to wish them well before diving into cars home as more rain came down.