Page last updated at 18:36 GMT, Sunday, 8 November 2009

Road hole 'caused by air pocket'

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Serious traffic disruption is expected as repair work continues

The collapse of one of Belfast's busiest roads was caused by an air pocket rising to the surface, an NI Water spokesman has said.

Bill Gowdy said the rupture in Cromac Street damaged an old Victorian sewer about four metres under the road.

He said the air pocket was probably disturbed a year ago during work on the Belfast Sewers Project.

It will take a week to repair the road, and significant rush-hour traffic disruption is expected on Monday.

The damage to the road was discovered early on Saturday.

ALTERNATIVE TRAFFIC ROUTES
Roadworks at Cromac Street
Ormeau Avenue and Bedford Street
East Bridge Street, Albert Bridge, Short Strand and Bridge End
Hamilton Street, Franklin Street and Bedford Street

The tarmac mostly stayed intact, but a 15 square metre hole emerged underneath the road.

Mr Gowdy said the air pocket was an "exceptional event" caused by Belfast's "unique clay geology".

The new storm-water tunnel built as part of the Belfast Sewers Project lies 15 metres beneath the surface and was not damaged.

The project remains on course to begin operating before the end of the year, said Mr Gowdy.

No infrastructure cabling was damaged as the road buckled.

Meanwhile, motorists driving into Belfast city centre on Monday have been warned to expect significant traffic disruption.

Drivers coming in from the east and south of the city will be worst affected.

The Roads Service have put in a number of signposted diversion routes while Cromac Street remains closed:

  • Drivers coming from east Belfast have been advised to use the Queens Bridge rather than the Albert Bridge. There will, however, still be access to the Ormeau Road (countrybound) from Albertbridge Road and East Bridge Street;
  • Drivers coming into the city along the Ormeau Road have been asked to find an alternative route if possible, as heavy congestion is expected on the diversion route of Ormeau Avenue, Bedford Street and Howard Street.


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SEE ALSO
Experts assessing collapsed road
07 Nov 09 |  Northern Ireland
Wilson explores bowels of Belfast
26 Oct 09 |  Northern Ireland
In pictures: Belfast Sewers Project
26 Oct 09 |  Northern Ireland

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