AN underground hole the size of three terraced houses has been found just beneath a section of the South Gower Road between Penmaen and the turn-off to Oxwich.
Swansea Council is now working with specialists to identify the quickest way to fill the void and stabilise the road. Once this is done the council will have a better idea of the time it will take to reopen the road.
The carriageway was shut immediately the extent of the problem was discovered on Wednesday and diversions put in place directing traffic heading into the city via Reynoldston, Cefn Bryn and the North Gower Road. This route will operate in the reverse direction for traffic travelling the other way.
The size of the void was established on Wednesday when specialist surveyors were undertaking a geotechnical survey of the road as part of work to look into the cause of a dip in the road. It was during this process that a much larger void was discovered.
These type of voids are quite common and are generally down to localised groundwater erosion of the limestone. They can affect farmers’ fields, people’s property and road surfaces in areas like Gower.
The road surface appears sound from above but the void discovered on Wednesday is just a few feet below the surface of the carriageway and extends for the whole width of the road.
Cllr Mark Thomas, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment Enhancement & Infrastructure Management, said:
“Our first priority is to keep people safe. There is a very real danger that the road could collapse at any time so there is no choice but to keep it shut until we can stabilise the ground and make the carriageway safe.
“The council is very aware of the importance of this route to residents and businesses and completing this work as soon as possible is a priority for our highways department.
“We are continuing to work with our consultants and are looking at engaging a specialist contractor to stabilise the road. Once this is done we will have a better idea of the timescale.
“It is vital in the meantime that no one uses the section that has been closed. Concreate blockades are in place to ensure that this does not happen.”
As soon as the issue was identified Swansea Council’s Transport Unit informed the school and public transport companies.
All affected school buses travelling to Bishopston Comprehensive from the west (Oxwich side) of closure are being re-routed along with the official diversion with one making a detour to serve Lunnon.
The 723 service which starts in Horton usually picks up children from both sides of the closed section but Davies Coaches are providing an additional midi coach for pupils living in Nicholaston, Penmaen and Parkmill.
Public transport buses operated by Adventure Travel that use the route will also divert via Reynoldston, Cefn Bryn and the North Gower Road, and vice versa.
This does mean that they will not be going through Penmaen, Parkmill and Cannisland Park but Swansea Council is working with operators to provide a facility for these areas in the next few days.