“rather than integrate it into the roof slab..”

According to the BBC report, “An emergency meeting of the Regional Development Committee was told independent consultants would examine what had happened.” ‘What had happened’ being a reference to the flooding of the newly opened Broadway underpass at the weekend. Except that the project director of the construction company involved has already told us “what had happened”

“No doubt the culvert did its job, it was designed and built exactly in accordance with specifications and put into practice. “But unfortunately you can’t countenance for severe weather conditions like this.”

And in the UTV report

deputy contract manager with the firm that built the underpass, Marty O`Neill, spoke with U105. He said: “It had been through the whole process of checking. Rivers Agency were happy with it, we were happy with it and the Roads Service were happy with the design we put forward, or else nobody would have signed on it. Nobody anticipated the amount of rain we had and I don’t think the finger pointing is going to help. We just have to see how we are going to get over this problem and prevent it in the future.”

So the specifications failed to anticipate the weather conditions at the weekend. But is there more to it than that?

Just last month it was opened with much fanfare a year ahead of schedule with Leo Martin, project manager for construction firm HMC, saying the realignment of the Clowney River to the south of the underpass had allowed them to complete the work early.

And from the ministerial press release when the underpass was opened.

Leo Martin Project Director for the Construction Firm HMC paid tribute to his workforce and said: “The decision to realign the Clowney River to the South of the underpass rather than integrate it into the roof slab has been a major factor in allowing us to reprogramme the work to finish this part early. This allowed us to deal more efficiently with numerous overhead and underground services and keep traffic running during the construction.”

The inquiry should be looking at how that particular decision affected events at the weekend..

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  • cynic

    Oi Pete

    You are becoming so “cynical”

  • And there’s this:

    However a heavy rain shower on the afternoon of 10 December [2007] seemed to overwhelm the entrance to the new Clowney river culvert on the north western side of the roundabout, resulting in the water level rising and flooding the western side of the site with up to 2 feet of flood water. When I explored the site a week later, there was still a layer of silt on the ground with tide marks on the signs and fences. The water also may have eroded a channel around the side of the entrance to the Clowney culvert which was apparent today. Hopefully the flood was a result of the incomplete nature of the works.

  • The Raven

    “Nobody anticipated the amount of rain we had and I don’t think the finger pointing is going to help.”

    Exactly. Let this inquiry ascertain the problem, fix it, and move on. Personally I am sick and tired of the fingerpointing exercise part that inevitably delays any work actually getting done.

  • joeCanuck

    Agree, Raven. The drainage system could have been designed for the once in 50 years flood and that flood just came along last week.
    Unfortunately, some folks think that when something goes wrong (not necessarily so in this case), then someone somewhere is to blame.
    Bah.

  • Pete Baker

    Not necessarily, Joe.

    One question to be asked is when “The decision to realign the Clowney River to the South of the underpass rather than integrate it into the roof slab” was made, and who was involved in making it.

    That choice seems to have had benefits for all those involved in this project – including the Departments.

    The other question to be asked is whether the original design, the one which would have taken longer to complete with more disruption, would have actually coped with the weather conditions at the weekend.

    If that’s the case, to fix the problem would seem to require a rebuild of the underpass.

  • joeCanuck

    Or to accept that it will flood once every x number of years, Pete.

  • Pete Baker

    Yes, joe, that’s the likely outcome. But one that might have been avoided.

  • The Raven

    Sorry Pete, but I’m kinda with Joe on this one. While the underpass is certainly the focus, there are also a lot of other matters which need to be looked at.

    There’s the big stuff:
    We built a city on a shit load of rivers. (Actually, if anyone has an article which goes into a bit of detail on where/what these rivers are, could they post it?)
    We built it on hills and in a “bowl” area
    It’s concreted to high heaven, which speeds run-off by about 7 times
    Four separate agencies deal with flooding and none seemed to know what to do – again!
    Oh, and then it chucked down monsoon-level amounts of rain in one day.

    Then there’s the little stuff:
    Fewer and fewer gardens to soak up even a fraction of the water
    People do not prepare themselves for extreme weather – shit, people don’t even stash a few cans of food any more!
    When people’s homes flood, they don’t seem to consider preventative measures for the next time around.

    Regardless of the reason why (see other threads for that row!) if this is the kind of freakish-but-semi-regular weather than we’re going to be experiencing from here on in, I kinda think that where one small river is culverted to, is going to be a fairly minor issue.

    Though Pete, to finish, I am not for one second diminishing your well-made point: that there has obviously been some sort of cock-up in the design.

    I just want to see it fixed, and fixed quickly, and we can skip the fingerpointing for a change.

  • Comrade Stalin

    One question to be asked is when “The decision to realign the Clowney River to the South of the underpass rather than integrate it into the roof slab” was made, and who was involved in making it.

    Peter,

    I disagree quite strongly. The question should, instead, be “what evidence exists that flooding in the region of the Broadway underpass could have been avoided had the river been diverted through the roof slab?”. We had approximately 20 million gallons of water coming down off the mountain. It had to go somewhere. If it didn’t go into the underpass, it would have gone somewhere else.

    I agree with Joe, the need some people have to blame someone for the problems caused by the floods, in most cases, does not seem fair. The quality of the response is a different matter, and one that needs to be investigated, but trying to blame someone because a load of water suddenly fell out of the sky seems misguided.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Raven,

    We built a city on a shit load of rivers. (Actually, if anyone has an article which goes into a bit of detail on where/what these rivers are, could they post it?)

    Take a look at the region of the underpass on Google Maps. In that picture, you can see two of the three rivers in the region of the broadway roundabout (in the centre of the picture, on either side of the bit marked “Donegal Road”, and this should give some idea of the scale of the engineering feat involved. The third river can be seen by scrolling about a screenful in the direction of the M1.

    I would say these rivers would have overflowed and created problems had there been no Broadway underpass.

  • Pete Baker

    Comrade

    There were two questions posed in the comment you quoted.

    Here’s the second one again.

    “The other question to be asked is whether the original design, the one which would have taken longer to complete with more disruption, would have actually coped with the weather conditions at the weekend.”

    Raven

    I’m sure there are lots of other matters that could, and possibly should, be looked at.

    But the underpass is specifically being investigated by the inquiry. And significant changes were made to the design at some point.

    I actually agree on you with the finger-pointing, at least between those involved in the project.

    It’s why I added the quote in the original post.

    They all signed off on the plans.

  • interested

    It could be argued that its preferable to have the underpass used as a flood reservoir every so often. As Comrade Stalin mentioned, there were 20 million gallons of water knocking about in that big hole. If there hadn’t been an underpass there then its likely that at least a big portion of that water was going to be floating around the general Broadway area.

    Quite possibly the houses closest to the former roundabout could be thankful that a few million gallons of water was in that underpass rather than up their street and in their kitchens.

    Maybe not the ideal flooding relief mechanism but one sunken taxi and a bit of mud on the motorway is still easier to deal with than hundreds of flooded houses.

    Wont stop the nolanised population of Northern Ireland demanding that they have someone to vent their speen at however. I marvelled at all those highly qualified engineers phoning the radio to give their expert opinions ono exactly how an underpass should have been designed and built.

    And should any actual qualified person actually produce a report saying that nothing could have been done to prevent the flooding then no doubt it’ll have all been an Executive inspired whitewash simply designed to make our devolved institutions look good…

  • The Raven

    Interested – i like your train of thought there on the “where else to put 20m gallons of water”. I wonder how many carpets that would have potentially spoiled otherwise!

    Pete, I think actually your point may – in an admittedly roundabout way – reinforce my own. In their rush to have an inquiry on the underpass, they’re taking their eye off so many of the other balls…so to speak!

    Perhaps a study into environmental improvements to other aspects I discussed, would be more fruitful than the inquiry proposed?

  • willis

    “Nolanised”

    Brilliant!

  • sms

    I drove through the underpass this morning and it was completely cleaned up and functioning in both directions. I don’t know why the flooding happened but a lot of credit must go to the workers who got it emptied and working again in such a short time.Credit where credit’s due

  • Comrade Stalin

    Pete,

    Apologies, I missed that part the first time around, so my knee jerked a bit.

    sms,

    The company responsible for the Westlink also has some kind of a maintenance contract running for .. 10 years I think it was. I guess they probably get penalized for any periods within which the road is closed.

  • D.A.

    “in an admittedly roundabout way”

    I could’ve sworn they’d replaced it with an underpass. 😉