08:00AM, Wednesday 21 July 2021
Drivers in Cookham may have been unwittingly driving over a sinkhole for weeks – due to barriers blocking the road being repeatedly moved.
Part of Terrys Lane was closed around a hole in the road, which seemed minor but was actually just a small part of a sinkhole spanning the breadth of the road under the surface.
The sinkhole was fixed last Friday, but before this point, barriers guarding it kept being moved to one side so that traffic could pass – ignoring a partial road closure on the street that was diverting traffic.
Speaking before the roadworks, John Fairlie, whose house is right by the barriers, said:
“Little do they realise that the small hole that they can see extends under the rest of the road that they drive over.
“It is quite deep and extends quite a distance under the seemingly intact surface, almost to the verge on the other side of the road.
“There are also service connections, a fibre cable and water pipe, suspended in the void which may not survive.
“Any time soon I expect to see a vehicle trapped in the hole that has collapsed under the weight of their vehicle.”
The borough’s highway maintenance contractors, VolkerHighways, sent an operative out to check the situation after John reported the problem to them.
“The service company is aware but moving barriers seems to happen regularly,” said John. “I keep replacing the barriers but I can't keep an eye on it all the time.”
The council has urged residents not to move barriers around roadworks in the future.
“Road closure notices are in place for good reason and we would ask people not to move them,” said a spokesman.
“They make motorists aware that they cannot access a particular part of the highway, protect road users from potential hazards as well as those working on site.”
This weekend’s smart motorway closures on the M4 will be shorter than usual due to separate bridge works taking place in West Berkshire (Junctions 13-14)