Of course, they had given plenty of notice. For the past three weeks, at least, there has been a yellow sign beside the road that crosses the moor announcing that on 25th March the road would be closed for three weeks. Driving the road this morning at 6.30, I made a mental note that the road would probably be closed for the return journey and that I would need to drive home via Bridgwater.
Of course, I forgot. Driving home, I dropped down from the A39 road from Bridgwater to the A361 road from Taunton and went to turn onto Nythe Road, the road that crosses the moor – it was very firmly closed. The prescribed diversion added seven or eight miles to the journey. Taking a shortcut meant following the narrow single track road, with steep banks on either side, that takes adventurous drivers up Turn Hill, each one hoping that they meet no traffic coming down, because the steep ascent includes a one hundred and eighty degree bend, from which the hill presumably derives its name.
Even if I hadn’t forgotten, I might have tried the moor road. Local road signs would not necessarily constitute the sort of evidence that would pass muster in a court of law – they might be true and they might not be true. Road signs announced the road was closed last year, even Google Maps insisted the road was closed, telling me to turn back when it was obvious that traffic was moving freely – the road had not closed.
Even if I hadn’t forgotten, I might have recalled journeys from the early-1970s when the bridges over the River Cary and the Eighteen Foot Rhyne were replaced. Everyone knew the road was closed and everyone told everyone else that the road was closed and everyone carried on travelling across the moor, driving over the temporary bridges that had been put in place to accommodate farmers who needed to reach livestock. Everyone knew that everyone continued to use the road, and no-one said anything. If someone has ventured down to the road works, word will undoubtedly spread as to the possibilities of ignoring the signs.
The road works are a piece of hubris. It is a bog road and the subsidence of one edge into the adjoining ditch is what happens on bog roads; millions could be spent, and the road would still sink. For months, barriers have kept traffic safely away from the subsidence, they have meant giving way to oncoming traffic, but traffic is infrequent on the road and slowing down was no inconvenience. In fact, the uneven nature of the road made it much safer. The diversion will probably simply cause problems somewhere else.