The Colonnade underpass at Dawlish is due to close temporarily for up to 12 weeks to allow engineers to carry out vital work on construction of the sea wall.
The underpass is being closed for safety reasons starting week beginning Monday 13 June. The closure is to allow engineers to install foundations for a new bridge that will connect the two sections of a new accessible public promenade, and for a box culvert through which Dawlish Water will flow out to sea.
Owing to the extreme weather often experienced along this stretch of coastline, it is necessary to carry out the work at this time to protect the railway line and station. This is the final stage of the work and the second section of the sea wall will reopen to the public in September.
The new sea wall is being built to protect Dawlish and the coastal railway from storms and rising sea levels. Engineers will be operating large and heavy machinery to install 20-metre-deep foundations that are needed due to the poor ground conditions in the area. Safety is Network Rail’s number one priority, and the size and location of the machinery means the underpass needs to be closed during construction.
Whilst the underpass is closed, the beach and Kings Walk promenade (opposite Marine Parade) will remain open; access will be via the stepped footbridge at Kennaway Tunnel. A signed diversion route will be in place and businesses remain open as usual.
Once complete, pedestrians will be able to walk along a wider and safer promenade from Boat Cove, south of Dawlish station, nearly a kilometre to Coastguard breakwater, and then along the original sea wall to Dawlish Warren. There will also be step-free access to the beaches and station.
Every effort will be made to complete this work sooner where it is safe and possible to do so. If the underpass can be reopened safely during the construction, it will be; this will be publicised weekly using local signage and via the South West Rail Resilience Programme (SWRRP) Facebook and Twitter pages.
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.”