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Tuesday, August 17, 1999 Published at 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK


Repairs hit Newbury bypass

The bypass opened amid protests in November 1998

The Highways Agency has announced that repair work on the controversial Newbury bypass will seriously disrupt the traffic flow it was meant to improve when it was built.

The eight-mile road faces severe lane closures while its porous asphalt, which was designed to reduce noise and spray, is ripped up and relaid.

Ironically, this will result in vehicles being re-routed back into the Berkshire town.

The £100m bypass, completed less than 10 months ago, sparked one of the largest anti-road protests staged in the UK.

[ image: The eight-mile road has problems with asphalt]
The eight-mile road has problems with asphalt
Campaigners set up 29 camps and built treehouses and tunnels to try to halt the operation, which took 34 months to complete.

Hundreds of protesters were arrested for demonstrating, including eco-warrior Swampy, who gained celebrity status.

Highways Agency bosses have revealed details of the resurfacing work, which will cause two months of lane closures.

"This is extremely alarming news and questions are going to have to be asked about the standard of the work done," said an Automobile Association spokesman.

[ image: Hundreds demonstrated against the bypass]
Hundreds demonstrated against the bypass
"This work is also going to cause much disruption for the people of Newbury who thought they had got rid of through traffic when the bypass was completed."

Earlier this year it was reported that crater-like potholes had appeared in the bypass's asphalt. The Highways Agency said at the time that the holes would be filled on a temporary basis until permanent repair work could be carried out.

The bypass was intended to reduce traffic on Newbury's inner ring road by 40%, but studies last month showed reductions of just 25%.

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