Over-running gas works delays re-opening of Killingworth Road (A189)
Newcastle City Council are advising motorists of a delay to the re-opening of Killingworth Road (A189) in Gosforth due to over-running gas diversion works.
Essential gas works are currently taking place by Northern Gas Networks to divert three gas mains away from the section of carriageway due for improvement as part of the council’s multi-million road improvement scheme.
Due to unforeseen complications during this phase, the council say this part of the project is facing a 12-week delay and the road will now re-open in June. This is due to two separate discoveries of asbestos and also the condition of an existing high pressure water pipe which also needed to be moved before the gas diversion works could continue.
Andy Coyne, project manager for Northern Gas Networks (NGN) said; “Moving three major gas pipes, whilst keeping the gas supplies running to the 35,000 homes and businesses they feed – especially during this cold snap - was always a challenging and complex task and was scheduled to take 27 weeks.
“This was made all the more testing by the discovery of asbestos at two points in the works which had to be safely removed due to the health dangers it presents, as well as working with Northumbrian Water to divert a water main due to the condition and integrity of the main when fully exposed within our excavations.
“These unavoidable issues have had an impact on our project timeline, but we have been working closely with the council to see how we can recover lost time on the project and keep the delay to a minimum. We apologise for any inconvenience.”
Over £13.5m is being invested into this well-known pinch-point on the network, which has seen the installation of a new Metro bridge and will see a road-widening scheme to include an additional bus lane, and widened pavements along with more space for vehicles.
The gas industry has very tight restrictions on where pipes can be sited near pavements and roads. As the council are building a new wall and road where the gas pipes are currently located, they need to be diverted before construction on the new carriageway can begin.
Cllr Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality: “The Killingworth Road scheme was progressing well until asbestos was detected underground. Asbestos is a toxic substance which had to be carefully removed before the gas works could safely continue.
“Then there was the issue with a major water pipe which needed to be relocated due to health and safety reasons,which also had to be rectified. Unfortunately these issues have impacted on NGN’s schedule and we are looking at a 12-week delay to the re-opening of the road.
“Although the delay is regrettable, impacting on commuters and construction costs, they are not unusual when it comes to digging up roads. Under our roads there are a labyrinth of utility pipes and old infrastructure which can raise unexpected issues, which has happened in this case.
“We would like to reassure everyone that we are doing everything we can to open the road as soon as possible. We apologise for the extended inconvenience to commuters and everyone affected and we are committed to allowing traffic on Killingworth Road as soon as it is safe to do so, once the gas works are finished.
The council say the road needs to remain closed until the gas works are fully complete. This is due to NGN creating a series of bypass pipes to re-route the gas whilst they excavate and install new pipes. As the new connector pipes are temporary, they will remain over ground, so the area needs to be secured away from the public. The road can only re-open once all the pipe works are complete and buried underground.
Once this phase of gas works is complete and traffic is using Killingworth Road, the council will then start the road widening scheme but this has been carefully phased to minimise impact on commuters. This highways widening scheme is scheduled to last until December 2018.
Once complete the scheme will reduce congestion, improve air quality, reduce journey times, improve public transport reliability and improve safety for people on foot and bikes to one of the busiest commuter routes into Newcastle.