Network Rail is reminding the Dawlish community that Colonnade underpass is due to temporarily close during the week beginning Monday 13 June to allow engineers to carry out vital work on the construction of the second section of the sea wall, which is being built to protect the south Devon town and coastal railway from storms and rising sea levels.
The underpass will be closed for up to 12 weeks for safety reasons, enabling engineers to install the foundations of a new bridge that will connect the two sections of new accessible public promenade and for the box culvert, through which Dawlish Water will flow out to sea.
Engineers will be operating large and heavy machinery to install 20-metre-long foundations, required due to the poor ground conditions in this area. Safety is Network Rail’s number one priority, and the size and location of this machinery means the underpass needs to be closed during construction.
During this time, the beach and Kings Walk promenade (opposite Marine Parade) will remain open and access will be via the stepped footbridge at Kennaway Tunnel. A signed diversion route will be in place and businesses remain open as usual.
Owing to the extreme weather often experienced along the Dawlish coastline, it is necessary to carry out this work at this time to protect the railway line and historic station. This is the final critical aspect of the work and will allow the second section of the sea wall to reopen to the public in September.
Once complete, it will link up with the first section of sea wall and mean residents and visitors alike will be able to walk along a wider and safer promenade from Boat Cove, south of Dawlish station, nearly a kilometre to Coastguard breakwater to the north before continuing uninterrupted to Dawlish Warren along the original sea wall. They will also enjoy step free access to the beaches and station.
Julie Gregory, Network Rail senior sponsor, said: “I would like to apologise for any disruption the closure of the Colonnade underpass may cause and sincerely thank residents, businesses and visitors for their patience and understanding while we complete this critical, final stage of construction.
“I appreciate this closure will be disappointing for the community, especially for people with accessibility needs or those with pushchairs and particularly during the busier summer months.
“However, we will never compromise on the safety of the public or our colleagues, and to ensure we remain on course to complete the second section of sea wall and open the entire promenade and both beaches in September, it is imperative this work is completed now.”
Every effort will be made to complete this work sooner where it is safe and possible to do so. If there are times during the construction when the underpass can be safely reopened, it will be, and this will be publicised on a weekly basis using local signage and via the South West Rail Resilience Programme (SWRRP) Facebook and Twitter pages.
Photo credit: Network Rail