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18 December 2015

Geo-technical engineer becomes overnight internet hit following A591 video

Dr Simon Ferley

A special video outlining what needs to be done to repair the A591 at Thirlmere following the devastating floods has been released by Cumbria County Council.

The video, A591 - Understanding the impact of the floods.

In the video, available on the council’s YouTube channel Dr Simon Ferley, principal geotechnical engineer at Capita, talks about why the road was damaged, how it can be rebuilt and the challenges to be overcome.

Since it was posted to the council’s Facbook page last night at 9.30pm it has reached almost 30,000 people, with over 800 likes, comments and shares - the biggest response the council has had to any of its social media activity since the floods.

Preliminary work is underway on the project to reconnect this vital artery route, as part of the flood recovery programme, and the council is seeking a long-term solution for the road capable of withstanding future flood events.

Explaining how the A591 will be repaired, Dr Ferley says: “What I envisage we will end up with is a reinforced concrete structure, a sort of inverted T-shape with the head of the T at the bottom sitting on the rock, reinforced concrete wall cantilevering from that, and above that and behind that new engineered fill to support the road.”

After thousands of tonnes of debris was cleared by county council and army personnel, structural assessments including ground investigations are now underway. This work includes use of ground-penetrating radar to identify any voids beneath the road caused by the floods.

A large amount of debris and material, washed down from the fellside during the floods, is close to the roadside. This material is unstable and ground investigations are being carried out to ensure there is no risk of further landslides on to the road or contamination of Thirlmere reservoir.

Councillor Keith Little, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for highways, said:

“The video helps explain the scale of the damage caused by the floods and the significant challenges we face restoring the road. The A591 is one of Cumbria’s most important roads, linking the north and south of the county. I understand people’s frustration that the road is currently closed, and I share that frustration. We’re looking at all options, including a temporary link, but it’s vitally important that we put a permanent solution in place to try to protect the road from future flood events of this kind.”

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A special video outlining what needs to be done to repair the A591 at Thirlmere following the devastating floods has been released by Cumbria County Council.