Sandsend Road is built on a ‘bench’ that has been cut into the natural coastal slopes. Despite ongoing maintenance, the concrete revetment protecting the road against coastal erosion showed increasing damage, incurring high annual maintenance costs. The over-steep coastal slopes landward of the road also suffered slippages, resulting in debris covering the highway and leading to its temporary closure.
To extend the life of this critical regional road, Royal HaskoningDHV and Balfour Beatty developed and delivered an integrated suite of coastal protection, slope stabilisation and highways works which started on site in late 2014 and were completed in summer 2016. The work was funded as a partnership between North Yorkshire County Council and the Environment Agency.
One of the main challenges was constructing the revetments to help protect the coast from erosion. Around 450 pre-cast concrete revetment units needed to be placed between tides on the popular beach. The units needed to be lifted from the road, so placing them safely became difficult, time consuming and labour intensive.
A bespoke installation system called the Mobile Unit Lifting Equipment (MULE) was developed, reducing risk to the workforce and the public by removing the need for a crane on the beach. Two MULEs carried and placed the 13t units from a single crane location over the length of the 1km long defence.
The system increased productivity; enabling installation of pre-cast units during normally inaccessible high tides.
Other successes included:
- 46,000m3 of arisings from stabilisation works were re-used on site, further protecting the road whilst lowering scheme costs, reducing the number of vehicle movements and minimising disruption to the public that would otherwise be associated with off-site disposal
- Endangered species of spotted orchid were protected and translocated within the original footprint and alternative habitats were provided to slow-worms, common lizards and common toads
- A comprehensive programme of community engagement was developed, including a public exhibition before work started; an open-door policy on site; and regular contact with residents, businesses, schools, charities and clubs to positively promote the project.
Nick Cooper, Royal HaskoningDHV’s project manager for the scheme, said: “Being recognised for this award is a real achievement for the team. Royal HaskoningDHV has been involved in Sandsend Road for many years, from the development of the area’s Shoreline Management Plan and Coastal Strategy, through to the implementation of the coastal protection scheme. This award recognises the partnership working that contributed to success, the innovative approaches taken, and the steps undertaken to involve the local community and protect the environment.”