A ROAD which was closed after a sinkhole appeared- leaving some motorists facing a diversion of up to 16 miles- has reopened ahead of schedule.

Durham County Council had to shut the A689 at Wearhead, in Upper Weardale, on Tuesday, May 14 in the interests of public safety due to subsidence.

Sinkhole leads to emergency road closure in Weardale

The emergency road closure was expected to be in place for up to two weeks but following the early completion of repair works today, the road was safe to reopen at 3pm.

Brian Buckley, the council’s strategic highways manager, said: “We are really pleased to have got this important route open again, ahead of schedule.

“We had no choice but to close the road to protect the public but our teams have worked hard – including throughout last weekend - to get it open again as quickly as possible.

“We appreciate there has been significant disruption during the closure and we thank everyone again for their patience and understanding during this period.”

The sinkhole on the eastbound carriageway was 5m deep.

However subsequent investigations identified the presence of a tunnel beneath the hole – believed to be connected to old lead mine workings – which was a further 3m deep.

A council spokesman said its teams used 85 tonnes of stone and concrete to fill the voids before laying new road surface.

Diversions were in place for traffic while alternative arrangements were made for public and school buses effected by the closure.

All transport services have now returned to normal.