24 May 2013
Thames Water apologised today as it announced part of London’s Regent Street would be closed again to traffic from Saturday (May 25) morning while round-the-clock repairs are made to a collapsed sewer and a leaking water main.
The closure of southbound lanes between Oxford Street and Little Argyll Street comes just two months after the same road reopened following a three-week closure of all lanes to repair a burst main which flooded the carriageway and retail premises half a mile south, at the Glasshouse and Vigo Street junction.
The new problems, which are unrelated to the burst in March, came to light following reports of water entering the basement of a nearby shop and an old communication tunnel.
Investigations confirmed there is a leak on a different water main. The leak has weakened a nearby sewer, which has collapsed.
The company said the aim was to fix this problem now to avoid a “very disruptive and possibly catastrophic burst” like the one in March or worse.
Regent Street will be shut southbound from the early hours of Saturday and repairs are set to start at 8am. Northbound lanes will remain open.
Thames Water has permission from Westminster council to work 24 hours a day, provided noisy activity takes place between 8am and 10pm.
Damian Crawford, Thames Water’s network manager, said: “We are really sorry to have to shut part of Regent Street again, particularly given that just two months ago we were saying we were doing as thorough repair as we could because no-one would thank us if we were back on the same street in a few months’ time.
“We fully understand people’s frustrations and we really are working as hard and fast as we can to get this new set of unrelated problems sorted out as possible.
“This problem is currently underground, but if left unchecked it has the potential to develop into a very disruptive and possibly catastrophic burst. Given its proximity to Oxford Circus Tube station and several other, larger water mains, we cannot afford to run that risk.
“The reality is that a third of the pipes under London were put in by the Victorians. And when things get old they break. That is why we are currently carrying out a record £1bn of upgrades to our networks every year to improve our water and waste network, and in the past decade we have replaced more than 1,600 miles of Victorian water pipes.”
Businesses will remain open as usual and there will be full pedestrian access. Tube stations will also be open as normal.
Traffic diversions will be put in place. The intention is to avoid existing diversions from Notting Hill Gate where another large water pipe is being repaired and large underground voids are being filled in to make the carriageway safe.
Mr Crawford added: “We’re trying to do this job with minimal disruption. We know we’re already working on other street across London and we’re doing our best to keep customers informed.”
For updates on the closure from Thames Water, subscribe to the ‘Text for Updates’ service by texting ‘Regent’ to 80007.