FRESH calls have been made to speed up work as the Beaminster Tunnel looks set to be closed until at least next June.
Dorset County Council is extending the formal road closure of the landslide-hit tunnel as work continues to find a solution.
Now traders have called for more urgency as they face nearly a year’s worth of disruption since the landslip in early July this year, The pleas come before a meeting in Beaminster this evening, when council engineers will reveal more details about proposals for the tunnel.
Ann Day, of the Ann Day Gallery in Beaminster, said: “I can see it being a year.
“They say six to 10 months for the work but we have the winter in between and nothing ever gets finished on time.”
Mrs Day, who has gathered a petition calling for action, said that takings in shops in Beaminster were down and the worst she has seen in 35 years of trading in the town.
“Locals are supporting us but nobody is going through the town.
“The solution is to open the tunnel. I don’t care what they do but they need to do it quickly.
“They don’t seem to see it as an emergency. Just something which needs doing in the future.”
The latest update from the county council outlines two main options.
Option one is stabilising the slope above the tunnel and option two is to build a permanent concrete extension to the tunnel.
It says that either option will take an estimated six months and detailed design, identifying and appointing sub-contractors and gaining consents will add to the time.
So it has extended its formal road closure notice until the end of June 2013.
More details are expected to be revealed when engineers attend the public meeting in the Public Hall at 6.30pm tonight.
Walls are ‘unacceptably weak’
A DORSET County Council spokesman said: “There is a possibility of further landslips on both sides of Beaminster Tunnel, meaning it cannot be reopened until a solution has been found to make it safe. Engineers are currently completing testing on material samples removed from the tunnel site, and early results indicate that the retaining walls are unacceptably weak.
“Engineers are working on two possible options to make the tunnel safe. The final decision about which option is best will be made when all the information is available.
“Either option will take an estimated six months to build.
“Detailed design, identifying and appointing sub-contractors and gaining consents will add to this time. We appreciate the closure is causing significant disruption to the community, but we take our responsibility of highway safety extremely seriously.”