Undercliff Drive closed to traffic after a landslip in February 2014. Isle of Wight County Press.
UNDERCLIFF Drive needs to reopen according to Tory council leader Cllr Dave Stewart, who has commissioned a feasibility study into the options.
The road has been closed to traffic since a landslip in February 2014 and Cllr Stewart accused the previous Independent administration of 'shrugging it's shoulders' and accepting the problem could not be solved because of the cost.
In 2014, an Isle of Wight Council commissioned report estimated it could cost up to £20 million to rebuild Undercliff Drive — a section of which had been single carriageway since a 2001 landslip.
Executive member for PFI and resources at the time, Cllr Jon Gilbey — who has now been appointed to take responsibility for contract management and the highways PFI under the caretaker Tory regime — backed a decision to only explore three cheaper options at that stage, the most expensive of which was a £500,000 temporary road.
The council eventually reinstated residents only access in 2016.
But Cllr Stewart, who is ward councillor for part of the affected area and was appointed council leader last month, said: "This road has been closed for far too long and I think the previous Independent administration seemed to just shrug its shoulders and accept it cannot be solved because of cost issues.
"However, I have said to the council it's a priority to find a cost-effective solution because the situation cannot continue. The road needs to be back in operation."
He has drafted in Isle of Wight-based landslip expert Dr Bruce Denness to work with Isle of Wight Council officers to produce a feasibility study on the economic impact of the Undercliff Drive landslip and what could be done to stabilise the road, if it was re-instated.
Dr Denness was among the experts to advise the Isle of Wight Council in 2014.
Cllr Stewart added: "My view is it cannot be beyond our engineering capability to find a way to remedy a landslip of less than 100 metres – even if it is with a bridge.
"This road closure has had a significant impact on the local economy for years now and the council believes at the very least research must take place to see what the options are. "