Cumbria County Council will be installing a trial section of cobbles (also known as setts) to Alston Front Street in the Spring.
The 2m by 6m trial panel by the Market Cross will be made of local Alston stone laid in two laying options, to test their strength and durability. Work is expected to start in March and will take a minimum of six weeks to complete (depending on weather conditions and temperatures). The work will be completed under traffic lights signals to keep traffic flowing through the town.
Laying the setts is expected to take three weeks. It is vital the specialist mortar has time to harden, so on completion the site will remain under traffic lights for a further period of between three to four weeks, depending on air temperature to allow the materials to cure.
Following this, the county council will carry out visual monitoring and material testing of the finished surface as well as on the foundation itself. The testing will help to assess how the trial panel performs.
Cumbria County Council has committed to designing and paying for a ‘Phase One’ scheme. This will see improvements to a section of road adjacent to the Market Cross as agreed with the Front Street Steering Group. Funding is being sought for phase two work, which incorporates the areas of Front Street below and above the Market Cross.
Over the summer last year, the council looked at all the options regarding appointing the best team to lead on the design process for phase one. When considering the requirements together with the additional information gathered through ground investigation works and local stone testing it was decided that Cumbria County Council’s in-house team is best placed to lead the design process. The project team will be supported by the specific technical capabilities and experience of an external pavement expert who has been supporting the project in an advisory capacity since early 2019.
Residents and businesses are invited to an engagement drop-in session on Saturday 25 January 11am – 4pm at Alston Town Hall to learn more about the project and give their views on where crossing points should be within the overall design for Front Street and also on the suggested diversion routes that could be used when phase one of the works starts later in the year.
Following the trial panel being laid in the Spring, a further information session will be held detailing the next steps for the project.
Cumbria County Councillor for Alston and East Fellside, Claire Driver said: “This will mark an exciting step forward in the project. The trial panel will give the project team the detailed information needed and residents a chance to see what local Alston stone looks like on Front Street.
“We would encourage all to come along to the drop-in events to learn more about the work of the project team and the Front Street Steering Group, tell us what they think about the trial panel and have their say on where the crossing points should be on the street.”
The county council’s highway team continue to monitor the condition of Front Street in order to keep the condition of the road safe. Any necessary repairs will be planned to minimise disruption.