Minister refuses funds to repair Beaminster Tunnel after landslip tragedy
The Department for Transport has refused to fund any of the estimated £2.1 million of repairs to a Dorset tunnel where two people died in a landslip.
Rosemary Snell, 67, and Michael Rolfe, 72, from Somerset, died when their car was engulfed by debris at Beaminster Tunnel in July.
Dorset County Council approached the DfT for a special grant for the “urgent and unusual highways issue”.
Transport Minister Norman Baker said it would be unfair to national taxpayers for the DfT to provide the extra cash. He said the DfT was providing more than £44 million in highways maintenance funding to Dorset County Council over the spending review period to 2014/15.
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In addition, he said the council had also been allocated “an exceptional one-off payment” of more than £2.7 million in March last year to deal with damage caused to roads by severe winter weather in 2010.
“It is, therefore, for Dorset to decide how to allocate these funds,” he said.
Engineers are focusing on two possible options for the tunnel – stabilising the slope or extending the tunnel.
A permanent concrete hood extension to the tunnel, which would preserve the existing tunnel portal and side walls on the approaches to the entrances, emerged as the public’s preferred option at a public meeting in Beaminster on October 18.
An engineers’ report on all five options will be submitted to Dorset County Council’s cabinet on November 7.