Making roads safer in Derbyshire, UK
Although the A5012 stretches for less than 15 km, it is the third most dangerous road in the UK, particularly the 3-km-long section known as Via Gellia Road near Matlock, Derbyshire. The winding, narrow road skirts the south-eastern Peak District and connects Cromford to Middleton and wider Derbyshire. The combination of its narrowness and overhanging trees, which leave the road permanently damp, results in a disproportionately high casualty rate, particularly among motorcyclists. During the 2017 winter in which rockfalls added to the already naturally high risk conditions, Derbyshire County Council closed the road so that specialists could install anti-rockfall measures.
Rope access and rockfall containment specialists from CAN Geotechnical, an RSK company, assisted the lead engineer in developing stabilisation measures for Via Gellia Road. While clearing vegetation, loose rocks were removed. Rope-access specialists used IRATA techniques to abseil over the 25-m rock face and install a combination of 250 m2 of active restraint netting and almost 1000 m2 of passive rockfall netting. The active restraint netting was installed over a large buttress of rock next to the road and the passive rockfall netting was installed across the rest of the face to capture any loose rock.
Owing to the restricted access to the top of the rock face, the combination of a 17-m telehandler and a hauling system helped to manoeuvre the netting into position. Throughout the project, the skilled team of rope-access specialists adhered to CAN’s stringent internal safety rules. The CAN team completed its work ahead of schedule to enable timely reopening of the road.