A KEY central city street is to be closed after a ‘fatberg’ has caused a sewer to partially collapse.
Part of Park End Street will be closed for up to two weeks from Monday, April 7, while £60,000 emergency work is carried out on the sewer, causing severe traffic problems in the area.
Thames Water said a congealed mass made up of “fat, wet wipes and other litter wrongly put down drains and toilets” had caused the collapse.
Through traffic will be blocked from entering the road, with a diversion route going via Hollybush Row, Hythe Bridge Street and Worcester Street.
That is expected to require the removal of a barrier at the junction between George Street and Hythe Bridge Street that is currently used by pedestrians.
Thames Water’s head of waste networks Anthony Crawford said the firm spent about £12m a year tackling such blockages.
He said: “Most of them form because people have tipped cooking fats down the drain and wet wipes down the loo.
“The sewers serve an important purpose and are not an abyss for household rubbish.”
Fat that was “easily” poured down drains solidified in cold sewers, then compounded with wet wipes, he said.
Mr Crawford added: “Pretty soon your fatberg is out of control and sewage is backing up and in the worst cases flooding up through toilets and into homes.
“We are sorry to anyone inconvenienced by our work. But it is vital we clear this blockage.”
The works will take place almost right in front of The Royal Oxford Hotel.
But manager Marzena Jones said that she did not expect it to affect business. She said: “Because the works will not be taking place at night, and we have double glazing, we don’t expect our guests to be affected.
“On the travel side, Oxford is already bad enough, but we find most of our customers arrive by train anyway.”
Bus services going through Park End Street will also be affected.
Oxford Bus Company spokesman Phil Ashworth said: “The sewer works will cause significant disruption to our services, but we realise the work has to be done. Scheduling it during the Easter school holidays will help.”
Service changes were still being worked out, he added, and would be posted to the company’s website next week.
Stagecoach Oxfordshire said that S3, 3, 14, 17, 17A and 17C services would still operate from the train station, but would not be stopping at Frideswide Square.
In addition the S1, 11, X30 and 66 will use stops on Frideswide Square, but the X30 service operated by the Oxford Tube will not.
Spokeswoman Karen Coventry said: “We are hoping the disruption will be kept to a minimum and will be working hard to keep services running. However, some delays will be inevitable.’’ Oxfordshire County Council would not comment on the expected impact on traffic.