Highway bosses respond to calls to reopen A29 in Pulborough after three-month closure
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The A29 was closed on December 28 following a landslip – and has remained shut ever since leading to traffic chaos, loss of trade and safety fears among residents.
A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said: “We fully appreciate the frustrations felt by local residents about the ongoing situation and the resulting inconvenience along with the hardship felt by some businesses in the area.
“We must stress that it is only the carriageway which is within the county council’s control. The land either side of the carriageway, which is what has caused the issue and where the required works must take place to allow the safe reopening of the road, is not adopted highway land and is owned by private landowners.
"In order to carry out the required works we must have permission from the landowners, without that we are unable to legally begin works.
"If we cannot come to an agreement, we have an option to serve notice on the landowners for them to undertake the work, but the advice received has been that such notice cannot be served until negotiations on an agreement have been exhausted.
“As such, we feel that it is best to come to an agreement with the landowners to allow us onto their land to undertake the works to reopen the road to two-way traffic and are working hard to reach an agreement which is acceptable to all parties.
"This has resulted in a longer than anticipated timeline, however these discussions are ongoing and are productive. It is appropriate that before we utilise any statutory powers, we must allow sufficient time for the landowners to fully explore the implications on their property and understand what is required before they come to an agreement with us.
“We have always been very careful in how we communicate regarding the situation between us and the landowners, being extremely conscious of how difficult it has been for them in relation to the requirement to get the road open and the concerns they have in regards to the land they own which has slipped and remains unstable.
“We understand the calls from residents and businesses to re-open the road, even with a temporary measure which opens the road using a single lane controlled by two-way traffic lights.
"If we were to go ahead and install this temporary measure which utilises concrete blocks to create a single lane down the centre of the road, then once an agreement has been made with the landowners, we would then need to re-close the road, and reinstate the diversion route.
“We continue to give this very careful consideration, however believe that this would result in potential confusion for road users caused by the change in status to the road and it would create even more inconvenience locally due to traffic being required to queue at the lights which will then cause issues on other roads in Pulborough.
“We are working hard to reach an agreement with the landowners so we can progress with implementation of the interim works to reopen the road while a permanent solution is developed and designed and agreed with all relevant parties.”