REPAIRS to a major commuter route badly damaged by a landslip will take almost a year, with diversions in place throughout the project.

Highways officials admitted the £4m repairs to the A67 at Carlbury, near Darlington, would cause significant disruption but that the work was urgently needed to stabilise the vital link between Teesdale and Darlington.

The A67 will be closed for two weeks in February for exploratory work, before the main work starts in May. The road may be closed for up to ten months.

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A diversion will be in place along Staindrop Road but Durham Road and Ulnaby Lane, used by many as an unofficial diversion during previous closures, will be closed to all traffic except for residents’ access.

As well as repairing the landslip itself, the Darlington Borough Council and Northumbrian Water have decided that two large water mains running underneath the road should be diverted to remove some of the pressure on the embankment.

The work will take place in three phases:

Phase one – the A67, Durham Road and Ulnaby Lane will be closed for two weeks while Northumbrian Water carry out preparatory works. The road will then re-open under traffic lights.

Phase two – the roads will close again in May to allow Northumbrian Water to move the pipes, which are one metre in diameter, in a 1km diversion. This phase is expected to take four months.

Phase three – the A67 will remain closed to allow contractors to stabilise a 385-metre section of the embankment using nine metre long pins. Durham Road and Ulnaby Lane may reopen to traffic at this point, subject to safety concerns.

Dave Winstanley, the council’s assistant director for highways, said: “It’s in everyone’s interests to get the road stabilised before there is any further movement.

“The steepness of the bank means that the work will have to be done from the road, probably by abseiling down, so that means we have to close the A67 during the duration of the work.

“If we could have done it any other way to keep the road open we would have but the physical constraints mean that can’t be done.

“In terms of a major incident we’ve found a solution relatively quickly. This is good news for commuters and local people but we do recognise there will be disruption.”

Mr Winstanley has pledged to hold a series of meetings in the communities affected by the road closures to keep residents and businesses up to date with the work and the logistics of the diversion.

Parts of Staindrop Road have been resurfaced by the council in preparation for the extra traffic during the diversion and work to prevent flooding has also been carried out. A dedicated webpage with updates on the repairs and road closures is available at darlington.gov.uk/carlbury.