Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Road builder 'must pay' for flood

At one point the Broadway underpass was under 20 feet of water

The consortium which built Belfast's Broadway underpass should be billed for the cost of clearing up flooding in August 2008, the Audit Office has said.

At one point, the new road, which is part of the Westlink, was under 20 feet of water and motorists were forced to abandon their vehicles.

The Audit Office called on agencies such as the fire service and police to recoup their costs from the developer.

It said this should be done whether a design weakness was identified or not.

Westlink builder Highway Management Construction has said a design fault was not to blame for the flooding.

It said a month or three-quarters of a normal month's rain in a 12-hour period was exceptional rainfall.

However, Auditor General Kieran Donnelly said: "It is important that any indemnified costs incurred by the Department and Roads Service, for example public liability costs and damages, in dealing with or as a result of the flooding incident on the Westlink are identified and recouped from the consortium."

He added: "Similar costs incurred by the other public sector organisations, for example costs to emergency services, should be identified by those organisations and the potential to recoup those costs should also be investigated."

Among the costs identified were an independent report providing recommendations for safety which cost the department £58,000.

A model examining the drainage system came to £70,000 and is to be shared equally by the Roads Service, Rivers Agency and the consortium.

Other significant costs included the impact of the road's unavailability while the flooding was cleared.

Work began on the Westlink in January 2006 and the final phase was completed in May of this year.

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