HC Deb 17 July 1986 vol 101 cc590-2W
Mr. Dormand

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on repairs to the Al9 road with particular reference to the contents of the reports commissioned by his Department dealing with the contracts for the construction of the road.

Mr. Peter Bottomley

The investigation into the defects of the A19 Teesside diversion and subsequent negotiations with the consultants and contractor have been completed. Settlements have now been reached.

Copies of the reports of the independent investigations by Maunsell and Partners and Cleveland county council have been placed in the Library of the House. The reports cover three areas of concern: the viaduct, the stage I carriageway and the stage II carriageway.

The viaduct is the most complicated problem and the difficulties lie in failure of the bearings of the main span to function fully to specification; some weaknesses in the support to the bearings of two of the main spans, weaknesses in the cross-bracing between the various beams in the main spans.

The cost of putting these right amounts to £200,000 and the report by Maunsell and Partners states that responsibility cannot be pinpointed precisely. The investigations report that at all times the road and bridge have been completely safe for use by traffic.

The stage I carriageway investigations found that the problems in the road were caused by a change in traffic flows and axle weights, particularly of heavy goods vehicles and no blame could be attached to either the consultant or the contractor.

The stage II carriageway independent investigations found that the surface had cracked and was showing signs of deformation. However, an appraisal of the report

Due to open to traffic (Financial year) Road name Scheme Mileages Estimated Cost
£ million
1987–88 A52 Link—M6 3.4 6.82
1989–90 A483 Welsh Border 2.5 6.8
1990–91 A41 Improvement 1.8 13.7
1991–92 A52 Bypass 3.5 4.1
1991–92 A523 Relief Road 3.3 19.1

The following small schemes are included in the regional improvement programme.

Due to open (financial year) Estimated cost £ million
1987–88 A5 Barbridge Bypass 0.60
1988–89 A550 Ledsham Station Diversion 1.00

showed that the conclusions reached were based on a mistaken interpretation of the results of tests. The road will not have to be reconstructed and can be satisfactorily repaired by an overlay provided about two years before it might have been expected on a similar road carrying the same volume of traffic elsewhere. This work started in 1985 and will continue until 1987. The additional cost to the Department of bringing this work forward is of the order of £600,000.

The reports of two of the three independent investigations indicate certain deficiencies in the works as completed although it has not proved possible to identify the exact cause in every instance. Without admission of liability, the consultants and the contractor have separately entered into negotiations with the Department and in my view have responsibly reached settlements which amount to a substantial contribution towards the repair costs.