THE reasons why an Exmoor road has to be closed for roadworks for four months were being explained to residents and parish councillors at a public meeting on Wednesday (November 29).
Somerset Council plans to shut the B3224 between Exford and Wheddon Cross from January 2 to May 10 next year to stabilise a collapsed embankment.
Even emergency services will not be allowed through the closure at Roundwaters and will have to use a lengthy diversion route.
West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has met council officials to explore ways the work might be carried out quicker to reduce the time the road is closed.
But the council was adamant the four months was necessary, and said it could even take longer if bad weather delayed its contractors.
A council spokesperson said: “A full closure is needed for the safety of the workforce and public.
“The scheme requires a piling plant which will take up a significant width of the road and once the embankment is stabilised new drainage will be installed and the carriageway resurfaced.
“It is not possible to open the road outside of working hours.”
The spokesperson said night working cold not be carried out because the site was close to a special conservation area where there were protected populations of bats.
The public meeting was being held in the Moorland Hall, Wheddon Cross, and attended by representatives from the council, scheme designers WSP, and contractor Walters Group for a question-and-answer session.
Somerset executive Cllr Mike Rigby, who is stepping down from his role at the end of the year, said: “The embankment repair is a critically important piece of work.
“Those who live locally or use the route regularly will be familiar with the situation.
“We know this will run over the Easter break but on balance this was preferable to commencing before the Christmas period and potentially having an impact then.
“The scheme will be of immense long-term benefit to everybody once it is completed as it will restore the embankment structure and mean temporary lights and the resulting delay to drivers are finally removed.”
The council said access for residents and businesses in the immediate area would be maintained throughout, and a diversion would be in place for everybody else.
The embankment was damaged when storms during the winter of 2020 brought down a large tree, since when the road has had temporary traffic lights in place.