Home » People voice frustration over Valleys mountain road closure for 3 months
Politics Rhondda Cynon Taf South Wales

People voice frustration over Valleys mountain road closure for 3 months

Rocks which have fallen on to the Rhigos Mountain Road in RCT which has been closed to the public (Pic: Andrew Morgan)

PEOPLE have voiced their frustration at the fact a Valleys mountain road will be closed for months, including worries over access to Prince Charles Hospital for women giving birth.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has announced that the A4061 Rhigos Mountain Road will close from July 22 until the end of October, 2024, to safely rectify hillside damage previously caused by a major fire two years ago.

The council said the closure was essential due to the complex nature of working on large areas of rockface, the use of heavy machinery and specialist access equipment to reach the full height of the rockface, and the possible risk of debris falling onto the road.

The scheme is scheduled to be completed by the end of October but the road closure notice allows for a longer period of time for the works (up to December, 2024) in case of any delays, which the council has said is standard practice.

But many people reacting to the news on social media are not happy with the decision to close the road at this time.

Steven Davies commented: “Surely traffic management would be the best solution…. Why not close it through the night and work on it during that time?”

Carla Jackles said: “The alternative road isn’t fit for that amount of traffic. Monk St is horrendous on a normal day.”

Darren Jefford-baker said: “Brilliant timing for tourism, major route to Zip World but RCT again only interested in Cynon & Taff.”

Another commenter, Debora Evans also thought working at night was a solution: “Can’t believe it, can’t they work one lane or in night time . This is a nightmare for a lot of people. You can’t get through the valley now they shutting that down till Xmas. Come on, there’s no need for that.”

Chris Moody said: “Just drove home from the south of Spain and seen them replacing the wire fence on a motorway mountain road and it was still open, just one lane closed work carried on.”

online casinos UK

While Annette Hughes said: “This is going to cause big problems for lots of people.”

But Paige Roberts thought safety had to come first: “Everyone moaning but yet if you were to drive over it and a large rock falls and smashes your car you’d all then be quick enough to slate them for not doing it.”

And Shaun Toms said: “It’s got to be done, life is at risk. I know it’s going to be an inconvenience to a lot of people but I think life comes first, don’t you?”

However, Jill Jones thought it was not good for women in labour trying to get to Prince Charles Hospital and Rachael Majer thought it was “absolutely ridiculous” to close a major highway for that length of time.

She said: “So many people use that road, for work, leisure (caravaning down west) and more importantly, now the majority of services have been shifted to PCH, for health appointments. The council should be throwing all the resources possible into this, to ensure it is completed as quickly as possible.”

It was “the worst possible time” according to Rhianydd Dutfield who said it came at a time when they had been “working hard to plug visiting the top of the Rhondda during the Eisteddfod”.

“Surely there’s an option for starting after the Eisteddfod, and possibly working 24/7 to reduce the closure period? I appreciate that the work needs to be done but we’ve managed with temporary lights this long and the fixings up there are doing their job for now.”

Jordan Isaac said: “That’s absolutely ridiculously unnecessary. My commute includes that road, and now down to Ystrad and over Maerdy mountain adding on a good hour to my journey – PLUS what about pregnant women? The only hospital for childbirth is Prince Charles. Adding on unnecessary time to journeys for medical emergencies.

“Just keep the lights there as it’s been for what – 2 years now? And if a closure is needed then why not do 8pm – 6am like they did when Maerdy mountain was being repaired? Absolute joke and in minimal timing.”

Saffron Phillips agreed, saying: “This is ridiculous and a huge inconvenience for so many people who use the road daily.

“This is also very alarming for pregnant women like myself who will need to access the road to travel to Prince Charles Hospital, particularly due to the fact that the announced closure period clashes with the temporary closure of the maternity and neonatal services at the Princess of Wales Hospital.”

Julie Jones said: “How this is allowed to take place coinciding with Princess of Wales maternity services being suspended, women are being advised to go to PCH and neighbouring healthboards most of which will need mountain access, the extra time no matter how much can make all the difference, not to mention emergency services needing access.”

Fire melted fencing on Treherbert Mountain above Rhigos Mountain Road which meant rocks fell on to the road (Pic: Andrew Morgan)

A fire in the summer of 2022 damaged a significant area of the mountainside, along with wire netting, plastic netting and fencing.

Emergency work that immediately followed the incident allowed the road to open under temporary traffic lights – directing vehicles away from the high-risk areas of rock netting.

Additional emergency repairs to the rock netting were then carried out in autumn, 2023, after a detailed inspection of the rock cutting and slopes above, to remove an accumulation of large stones that had fallen from the rockface.

A major scheme to rectify the damage has since been in design. Inspection data has been used to create a model of the slopes, and a simulation of possible rock falls have been used to design a solution that mitigates the risk to road users.

The final design proposal incorporates a combination of specialist geotechnical solutions including an attenuator system, rock fall
barrier, and active and passive rock netting systems.

The main repair scheme will start on Monday, July 22, and is currently scheduled to conclude by the end of October, 2024. A full road closure will be put in place throughout.

The work area is located at the southern end of the A4061 Rhigos Mountain Road, over a length of approximately 375-metres.

Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd has been appointed to deliver the scheme on behalf of the council.

The council said a full road closure was essential due to the complex nature of the work and to mitigate risks to highway users during the work. The road was of limited width and the contractor needed specialist access equipment and heavy machinery, it said.

Some of the blocks that will be anchored are up to 50 tonnes in weight. The council said access for emergency vehicles could not be maintained and the council had consulted the relevant services which had put mitigating measures in place.

The public right of way beneath the A4061 Rhigos Mountain Road would remain open for experienced walkers, but this route was not suitable for cyclists, the council said.

When it is finished, the temporary traffic lights which have remained on Rhigos Mountain Road since the summer of 2022, will be removed.

The council’s school transport team has been consulted for the period of work beyond September, 2024, and alternative arrangements are being put in place with local schools.

The council’s director of highways, streetcare and transportation services said: “While there will be disruption due to this scheme, planned works seek to minimise this and reduce the risk of sporadic and longer term closures. These complex engineering works are necessary to ensure the safety of this important route, respond to the damage caused by grassfires in 2022, and importantly seek to future-proof the wider structural integrity of this mountain route.

“The works are unable to be carried out either wholly or partially at night, due to the complex nature of the remediation of the rock slope. Daylight hours are essential to provide safe conditions for the workforce to operate heavy machinery and undertake rope access to the large rockface and rock netting.

“The start of the works have been scheduled for the school summer holiday to minimise disruption as much as possible. The council recognises the significant inconvenience this closure will cause for residents of both the Rhondda and Cynon valleys, but due to the complicated civil engineering that is needed, there are no other viable alternatives available to complete these very necessary works.”

Author