A pensioner who lives on the main A36 to Bath has warned that it’s likely the road will have to be closed for several months for emergency repairs that could cost several million pounds.

Wil Bailey has expressed serious concerns to Highways England after large cracks opened up in the tarmac on the A36 at Limpley Stoke hill.

He says the Warminster-bound carriageway and a 100-metre section of footway was blocked off earlier this week, with single-lane traffic restricted by temporary lights.

Mr Bailey, 74, who has lived on the A36 Warminster Road for 35 years, said this was not the first time the carriageway has slipped due to subsidence.

He said: “The re-emergence of serious cracks and subsidence of the road edge - above a very steep slope with residences below - followed a ‘papering over of cracks’ some months ago using some shovelfuls of bitumen following repeated reports made by concerned residents.”

“The whole road has previously been totally closed twice in recent years, due to substantial essential underpinning works to stop the whole road slipping down into the valley below.”

“Eventually we managed to get the Highways Agency to come out. They closed the road completely and did some very deep concreting to stop that section from slipping and they said we would have no more problems.

“But now it’s started again 50m above my drive. More cracks have been appearing in the tarmac pavement over the last two years and a couple of days ago they opened up much wider.”

“There is apparently a report in the archives of the Merchant Venturers in Bristol by Isambard Kingdom Brunel consulting engineer.

“When consulted about the wisdom of upgrading that roadway to carry increasing motor traffic, he indicated that the whole hill was akin to a pile of slates, lubricated by percolating rainwater, and would always slip progressively under the vibration of continuous traffic.

“Quarry workers’ hidden access holes through/under the roadbed, unsuspected by today’s road engineers, didn’t help. He couldn’t envisage, of course, today’s volume of 44-ton heavy goods vehicles day and night.

“Some residents would again welcome the quiet of another total closure, as would the deer and nearby wildlife.”

Guy Swains, Highways England's engineering team manager, said: “We are currently carrying out investigations into the cause of surface defects on a footpath adjacent to the southbound carriageway section of the A36 between Limpley Stoke viaduct and Limpley Stoke village.

“Safety is our number one priority and temporary traffic lights will remain in place while the southbound carriageway and footpath are closed for investigation work to understand the cause of the defects.

"We apologise for the inconvenience and advise motorists to plan ahead and allow a little extra time for their journeys.”