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Week-long closure on Plymouth's Gdynia Way in bid to sort overflowing drains

By Plymouth Herald  |  Posted: November 29, 2012

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Motorists face further traffic disruption in Gdynia Way as work takes place to clear a sewer half-filled with silt.

South West Water last night began works to clear a section of the sewer after camera investigations discovered the debris. The probe was carried out on Tuesday night after last week’s major flooding which saw the main route into Plymouth closed twice.

The overflow happened during the worst of the city’s flooding, where over eight days more than the average rainfall for November fell in Plymouth.

At first it was unclear who was to blame for the fiasco with Plymouth City Council pointing at a South West Water sewer and the water company saying the council alerted them to the problem late.

Initial investigations saw South West Water engineers discovering what was believed to have caused the blockage – a large lump of mortar and rubble in a sewer near Barbican Approach. The latest investigation on Tuesday night was aimed at reassuring the authorities involved that there were no further major blockages in the sewer network. But CCTV cameras found part of the sewer half filled with silt. Work to clear it began last night and traffic is set to be restricted in phases using lights for the next week.

A South West Water spokesperson said: “Our investigations at Gdynia Way have found that part of the sewer is half filled with silt which we suspect may come from discarded building waste.”

Work was to start last night and carry on through to next week with traffic will be restricted in phases using lights.

They added: “Three-way traffic lights will be installed at the Barbican Approach, adjacent to Pizza Hut’s car park, so the first section of sewer can be cleaned.

“The restrictions will then move to outside the Thistle Park Garage, adjacent to Gashouse Lane, for the second section.

“Finally, four-way lights will be installed at the junction of the Barbican Approach and Commercial Road. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause but it is vital to carry out this work as quickly as possible.” The company couldn’t say how long the debris had been in the sewer or where it had come from.

Last week Gdynia Way was closed for more than seven hours on Wednesday, and again on Thursday. On Saturday South West Water engineers, using CCTV cameras, discovered the obstacle they thought to be the problem under Barbican Approach – the lump of rubble. An engineer had to climb into a manhole to tie a rope around the block so that it could be pulled free.

At the time a spokeswoman for the water company said the blockage was in a 75cm diameter sewer. However only hours later the road was flooded and closed again.

Gdynia Way was part of the £19million East End transport project. Commuters and local traders faced 18 months of chaos and disruption as was widened and improved.

Charlie Powell, a spokesperson for the Met office, said that from November 19 to November 27, 130mm of rainfall fell over Plymouth, whereas the average rainfall for November would be 113.4mm. So far this month there has been 193.8mm of rainfall.

A Plymouth Transport and Highways spokeswoman said: “It’s unfortunate that it is necessary for South West Water to carry out further works on Gdynia Way, but we are relieved they have completed their investigations, found the source of the problem and are taking positive action in an effort to prevent future flooding in the area.”

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