WATER-POWERED jets started to blast the congealed ‘fatberg’ from the sewer in Park End Street yesterday as motorists faced a slightly easier journey through Oxford.
Park End Street was closed on Monday and will remain so for up to two weeks as Thames Water repairs a partially collapsed sewer damaged by a build-up of fat and waste known as a fatberg.
The road closure caused major delays across much of the city on Monday. Yesterday the traffic woes eased for those travelling through the station area from the south and north, but those heading from the west along the A420 and Eynsham Road, West Way and Botley Road still faced lengthy delays.
The queue on Botley Road during yesterday morning’s rush hour
Oxford City Council leader Bob Price believed many motorists yesterday probably avoided the roads around the city after Monday’s problems.
He said: “I observed that the traffic was nowhere near as bad.
“There were some very heavy jams but that was not the case today – it has been a big improvement. I guess it is because people are aware of it now and taking action.”
A five-way traffic light system is in place outside the rail station in Frideswide Square. Yesterday Thames Water’s six workmen dug down into the ground to reach the sewer and began to tackle the fatberg.
Ian Smith, from Thames Water’s sewer team, said: “We’ve been using a specialist jetting machine to clear away the fat. Work is progressing well, and we’re on course to finish before Easter, on schedule.”
Repair work on the sewer will begin today.
Thames Water spokesman Craig Rance added that the work was only needed because people had been throwing cooking oil and waste like wet wipes down the drains. He said: “It is massively frustrating for everyone sat in the traffic, trying to get to the station or across Oxford, and for us having to do the work.
“But if people continue to put fat and waste down the sewer it will happen again – it is a pretty stark warning.
“Workmen have been blasting the fat away with high pressure jets and cleared everything so today they will be in the process of replacing the concrete pipe which was damaged. You have seen some of the pictures of it – it looks like jelly but it’s not, the part connected to the pipe is rock hard.”
Mr Rance added reports that the work could take longer than the scheduled two weeks are untrue.
Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “We believe that commuters have adjusted their journeys and therefore traffic has settled.”
Oxford Bus Company spokesman Phil Ashworth said: “It’s was a much better day than the day before with fewer major delays.
“Traffic was heavy for a time on Botley Rd delaying the P&R400, City4 and Brookes Bus U1 services, but in the afternoon things were running well.”