Author Topic: A465 Section 2: Full weekend road closure – 23rd to 26th October 2015‏  (Read 2530 times)

Online rhychydwr1

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Full weekend road closure: 23rd October - 26th October 2015
 

A full weekend road closure on the A465 Section 2 between Gilwern and Brynmawr is scheduled to commence at 20.00hrs on Friday 23rd October through until 06.00hrs on the Monday 26th October 2015.
 
The closure will facilitate a number of construction activities, but critically it is required to install a bat crossing underneath the carriageway and undertake rock blasting trials on some of the cutting slopes within the Clydach Gorge.

The recommended diversion from both ends of the closure can be seen here:

https://a465gilwern2brynmawr.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/ttro_15-full-closure-brynmawr-to-glanbaiden.pdf


During the course of the closures full access will be maintained through the site for emergency services vehicles which will be escorted by our traffic management team. Also we intend to maintain controlled access across the closure at the Saleyard and Gilwern junctions. An outline of the crossover arrangements can be seen here:

https://a465gilwern2brynmawr.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/ttro_15-full-closure-brynmawr-to-glanbaiden.pdf

 

Offline Clive G

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What's the difference between a 'bat crossing', a 'zebra crossing' and a 'pelican crossing'?

Seriously, though, is it true that the Old Drum & Monkey Inn has now been demolished? What with the fire at the Rock & Fountain Inn, now granted planning permission for residential units, that's just about it for Clydach Gorge pubs in which to socialise near the caves.

Thanks for the info Tony.

Offline cseal

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...The closure will facilitate a number of construction activities, but critically it is required to install a bat crossing underneath the carriageway and undertake rock blasting trials on some of the cutting slopes within the Clydach Gorge...

Interesting - I never knew bats prefer to cross underneath roads instead of fly over.

Online Huge

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The Old Drum and Monkey is sadly gone Clive.

Offline Stuart France

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Costain have advised CCC that the A465 will be closed for the weekend of 23-25 October.  This will likely affect caver access to Ogof Capel and footpath access in the area of the former Drum & Monkey pub.  It is also the first full-scale test of what professional drilling and blasting might do to the underground environment.  So you don't want to be in any cave nearby while all this is going on.

I understand that the tunnel under the A465 next to the former pub is to be converted into a space just for bats at some stage, with an alternative way across the A465 then to be provided for pedestrians, presumably a footbridge.

I have taken a series of photos of the final days of the landmark pub as it was being demolished.   See:
www.walesunderground.co.uk/drumandmonkey.ppt

Online rhychydwr1

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Drum and Monkey still open  :o

see here:  http://www.ukpubfinder.com/pub/6653


Offline Clive G

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Drum and Monkey still open  :o

see here:  http://www.ukpubfinder.com/pub/6653


"The finest cuisine in South Wales in a building with unique historical history."

This places a new interpretation on requesting a drink 'on the rocks'!

How can the last public house where walkers and cavers visiting the Clydach Gorge had a chance to intermingle and socialise with the local community be allowed to disappear in this fashion?

I twice submitted a proposal to the highway contractors, Costains (Phil Baker, in the second instance, in May this year), firstly through a caver and, secondly, the chairman of Brynmawr Museum:

"The Old Drum & Monkey Inn has provided a focal point for the local community over a good many years, enabling local residents and visitors to the area to meet together. It once offered a very good restaurant and a separate meeting room, where many gatherings of the Welsh Section of the Cave Diving Group have been held since the 1980s. Since the closure of the Rock & Fountain public house, owing to a fire (Christmas 2008?), there hasn't been another such focal point for social gatherings in the locality. Planning permission has now been granted for the Rock & Fountain to be converted into residential units.
 
So, if there is any way that the Old Drum & Monkey building could be removed and rebuilt at a nearby site, where it could be reinstated as a meeting place for the local community, I think this would be a great asset and merit to the overall scheme of works. This would help ensure that the new road scheme not only benefits those in traffic passing through the area, but also the local community. Such removals have been handled very well in the past by the St Fagans National History Museum: http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/stfagans/about/ "

However, I have yet to hear anything back . . .

Offline Judi Durber

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Quote
Posted by: Stuart France
« on: Yesterday at 11:40:38 PM
It is also the first full-scale test of what professional drilling and blasting might do to the underground environment.  So you don't want to be in any cave nearby while all this is going on.

Stuart where are they blasting?
Are you saying it is best to stay out of all the caves in the mountain? Clydach Gorge? LLangattock?
Just the week-end or for the rest of the week? or longer?
How do we know it is safe to go back in the caves again?
Is there a contact to find out what health & Safety are recommending?
We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life waiting for us.

Offline Clive G

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. . .
How do we know it is safe to go back in the caves again?
Is there a contact to find out what health & Safety are recommending?

It all depends on the quantity of explosives being used and where.

Blasting was necessary to create the original 3-lane Heads of the Valleys Road between March 1960 and 1962 and no deleterious effects were reported in the known caves at the time. However, as with any earthquake or tremors that might extend to a caving area, great care should be taken in loose sections of cave passage afterwards - such as in boulder chokes or where loose flakes of rock may have become unsettled sufficiently to drop off the wall at the slightest pressure or knock. Especially take care in caves where you see white scrape marks - usually caused by a recent rockfall and sometimes precipitated by cavers themselves!

You have to look out for and be aware of this sort of thing all the time when exploring newly discovered cave passages. One very wide bedding that I regularly crawled under in the Easter Maze in Daren Cilau - in fact which I pushed first 12 years earlier - was so tight one day that I couldn't make progress beneath it with my helmet turned sideways. It would only have been possible to have continued by taking my helmet off, except I had dug it sufficiently enough to get through with my helmet on . . . In fact, possibly, I did take my helmet off and then, when I couldn't get my head through sideways, I realised that, gradually, the whole roof was separating from the rock strata above and settling towards the floor, like a giant cheese press. Then you learn to stay away and go elsewhere for a good while!

When we were exploring Northern Stream Passage for the first time in Agen Allwedd, as our group of six cavers sat down for a break we heard behind us two distant boulder crashes as the passage stabilised itself and had to hope that the route remained open enough for our exit. The same thing happened to Ian Rolland on the first exploration of the Inca Trail in Agua Colorada in Daren Cilau. The trio had just sat down after breaking through beyond Machu Picchu when a sizeable boulder fell out of the roof just 2 1/2 m behind them! Hence the name Trouser Filler Passage.

However, it is highly unlikely that blasting in the Clydach Gorge will cause other than very localised effects - so it is important to keep tabs on precisely where blasting is and will be taking place when planning your caving in the Clydach Gorge area during the period of the road-widening works. Take a look next time you visit the Llangattock Quarries and on the quarry faces you will see the marks of blasting shot holes that were used to bring down whole stretches of the rock faces. The caves you go into at the base of these faces have certainly survived the exterior blasting.

One hazard which does come to mind is where there might be a body of water underground in a subterranean lake or sump that could be released if any boulder or sediment dam should become dislodged and give way, resulting with a tidal wave being sent into passages below. However, this has only been experienced once at Llangattock, to my knowledge, when a mud plug gave way holding a surface lake in a shakehole and the entire lake disgorged underground in a short space of time. This resulted in 2009 with evidence of unusual flooding in Biza Passage in Agen Allwedd, but this site is a long way away from the Clydach Gorge.

Certainly, do not cave in the vicinity of the blasting when this is taking place. Where there are known natural instabilities, such as above the entrance to Ogof Craig a Ffynnon, continue to take good care at all times and, if in doubt, stay away until the blasting operations have been concluded and nature or cave 'gardeners' have done their work in bringing down loose rock.

As with all caving activities, you have to undertake the sport voluntarily, take the best advice you can find as to safe caving practice for the caves you wish to visit and, above all, train yourself to look out for potential hazards instinctively - rock instability, natural constrictions and cave flooding, etc. - whilst you proceed carefully, yet confidently, with your explorations. Otherwise, the cave will always be there another day, just make sure you will be, too.

Online rhychydwr1

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Or better still go caving in England on those two weekends   :)

Offline Stuart France

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I have an update from the road contractors.  Their plan is to shut the A465 in the Clydach Gorge completely from 8pm on Friday 23rd October and then to re-open it asap thereafter as determined by their findings and rate of progress.

Plans to do some blasting during this weekend’s closure opportunity have been changed.  The first blasting (location not specified) is now likely to be in March 2016.

The A465 is going to be dug up this weekend near to the existing underpass by the former Drum & Monkey pub by using pneumatic breakers.  Costain will then insert a line of 1800mm diameter concrete rings weighing 6 tons each to create a tunnel for bats to cross under the existing and then the new road too.  Some kind of big digger will position the rings.  It’s a bit like doing another Vurley Swallet entrance job except that these rings are not vertical and this is happening under a trunk road.

The excavation work for the new bat tunnel will run through the night on Friday and into Saturday morning when the rings will be put into place.  It could all be over by Saturday night with the A465 repaired, given a fair wind.  But it is probably best to give Ogof Capel and the Devil's Bridge footpath a miss while this weekend’s work is underway.  The other caves in the Clydach Gorge and elsewhere are not affected.

Anyone nevertheless turning up at the entrance to Ogof Capel over the weekend is likely to find a notice there placed by Costain giving them specific H&S guidance.

The contractors will have vibration meters etc deployed so as to remain aware of the effects being created.  Dr Peter Smith, their bat consultant on this job, will be making a visit into Ogof Capel after the weekend to check that no cave damage occurred.  Any other questions please try me first on 07740 871845 and I’ll pass you on to Costain if I don’t have an answer for you.