A seven-and-a-half-mile section of one of the UK’s best-known and most photographed sections of highway is to be improved in a major scheme by Island Roads.
The Military Road between Chale and Brook will be improved in a project expected to last around four weeks and which will see sections of the picturesque road strengthened as well as resurfaced.
The project will be the longest consecutive length of road upgraded by Island roads in a single scheme as part of the Highways PFI.
The work has been scheduled for outside of the main holiday season but before the onset of winter when cold and wet conditions on what is a particularly exposed section of road could otherwise extend the length of the works causing more disruption for businesses and residents.
Work will be undertaken around the clock to shorten the overall duration of the project in a further step to minimise disruption.
The road will be closed to through traffic throughout the project duration, because of the nature of the improvement work. However, the scheme is likely to be split into six phases to ensure access to businesses and residents can be maintained for as long as it is safe to do so.
Island Roads is in contact with affected businesses and will continue to keep them abreast of plans and progress during the works. Letters will shortly be sent to residents explaining more about the scheme and the mobile visitor centre will also visit the area ahead of work starting to help answer any additional questions that people may have.
Island Roads staff will also be taking their Mobile Visitor Centre to the area on September 25 to give businesses and residents the chance to discuss the project. The centre will be at IW Pearl Car Park between noon and 1pm and at the lower Wight Mouse car park (off the Military Road) between 1.30pm and 2.30pm.
Steve Ashman, Island Roads service director said: “The Military Road is almost certainly the Island’s most photographed and well-known stretches of highway, but we also know it is home to many businesses, landowners and residents.
“We will in the coming weeks be liaising with these businesses, landowners and residents to explain more about the work and to look at ways in which disruption and inconvenience can be kept to a minimum wherever possible.
“Our aim is to bring about a much-needed upgrade to this important route with the least possible impact on those who use it. We have already held initial discussions with many affected businesses and many recognised the need for the work. We thank them for their understanding and will continue to keep both them and the wider community informed.”
Cllr Ian Ward, IW Council cabinet member for the highways PFI, said: “An upgrade of this scale is a major undertaking that has been made possible because of the Government grant that underpins the Highways PFI.
“I am pleased that Island Roads is consulting residents and businesses and I look forward to seeing the successful completion of this work that will mean the entire 10-mile length of the Military Road – which is a vital part of the Island’s tourism and rural economy – will have been upgraded under the council’s highways improvement partnership.”
The Military Road was built by the military in the 1860’s as part of the defence of the Island and it enabled troops to patrol the south west coastline from their barracks in Freshwater.
It was for many years closed to the public with a series of gates restricting access but after being purchased from the War Office and the Seely Estate, the road was reconstructed and public access established in the 1930s.
Island Roads has also liaised with the National Trust, AONB officers and Natural England given the environmentally-sensitive status of the land surrounding the highway. A dedicated page on www.islandroads.com will also provide scheme updates as will the Island Roads Twitter feed @IslandRoads.