Crucial works carried out at iconic M40 Chalk Cliff

Crown Plus has undertaken essential maintenance works along the iconic Chalk Cliffs between Junction 5 and 6 of the M40 in Oxfordshire.

As part of ongoing geotechnical earthwork reviews, recent inspections of the high chalk cliffs provided several recommendations for maintenance works to be undertaken to the cutting to minimise risks to the motorway, its users, and to meet design life expectations.

Crown Plus were engaged to undertake the site clearance of trees, clear rock fall debris from the face of the debris fence, together with the re-establishment of the drainage ditches. The scheme was undertaken in early October 2023 during night time lane closures utilising 12m long reach excavators, over a period of 2 weeks, with approximately 1300m3 of material removed off site.

Gary Price, construction Director at Crown Plus says: “Everyone at Crown Plus feels very privileged to work on this scheme given its iconic nature and geological importance.”

Located between junctions 5 and 6 of the M40 in Oxfordshire, the iconic Stoken Church Chalk Cliff is part of Aston Rowant Cutting a 3.5-hectare (8.6-acre) geological Site of Special Scientific Interest and Geological Conservation Review.

The steep chalk cutting, was constructed through the Chiltern Hills, during the early 1970s for the M40 motorway. It is 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) long and up to 47 metres (154 ft) deep.

The cutting itself is of significant geological importance as it provides the best exposure in central England dating to the Coniacian stage of the Late Cretaceous, this being approximately 88 million years ago. It is part of the Upper Chalk succession, and at its base there is a fossil rich section which is important in defining the boundary between the Coniacian and the preceding Turonian stage.