THE Highways Agency faced more questions last night after flooding severely affected the A66 for the second time in two weeks.
The flooding – at the site of a new £12m improved junction which opened four years ago at Long Newton, near Stockton – caused major traffic tailbacks yesterday morning – and continued disruption for motorists throughout the day.
Engineers spent a number of hours pumping excess floodwater away, which had gathered underneath a bridge crossing the carriageway, following heavy rain overnight. It led to the closure of one lane of the eastbound A66 – a fortnight after the eastbound carriageway was entirely closed for two days due to flooding.
Last night, Councillor Chris McEwan, Darlington Borough Council’s lead member for regeneration, said: “I am astounded that this has happened again within the space of two weeks.
“The A66 is a main arterial route serving the Tees Valley and for this to happen again is unacceptable.
“Having spoken to senior officers within the Highways Agency, it is clear that it is the infrastructure at that junction which needs to be looked at and I would urge them to get on with this rapidly.”
Teesside MP Ian Swales, who has complained about previous flooding on the A66, said: “It is absolutely ludicrous that this has happened again and it needs urgent attention.
“Somebody is at fault, either the people who designed and specified the project or those who carried it out. They need to come back and put it right.”
It is understood that one area being looked at is whether pipes that were installed when the junction was built are large enough to take away excess water from a soak-up pond at the site.
A Highways Agency spokeswoman blamed rain falling on already saturated ground, causing significant runoff from adjacent fields and overloading drains.
The spokeswoman added: “The drainage system at this location was designed to the agency’s current standards and after the flooding has subsided we will carry out a full survey to ensure the system is working to its full capacity.
“We will also consider if any further measures could be implemented to mitigate the impact of further flooding events.”
Elsewhere, two care workers on their way to an elderly patient who had broken his arm described how they had to abandon their car after floodwaters began seeping into the vehicle.
Angela Boocock and Nicola Beeston, who work for Care UK in Stockton, had to get out of the car and push it to safety when they misjudged the depth of water at the aptly named Fish Pond Farm, near Bishopton in County Durham.
Mrs Boocock said: “Somebody had to go out as we had an old man who had broken his arm and was unable to feed himself. I am okay, but my car is not.”
North Yorkshire County Council says the cost of repairs to roads and bridges in the county following flooding last month could be £3m. It is asking the Government for financial help under the Belwin Scheme, set up to help councils following major emergencies.