Experts call for action to get city on right road

COUNCIL bosses say the £15million redevelopment of George Square will go ahead – despite a bus getting stuck in a sinkhole.

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£15million redevelopment of George Square will go ahead despite sinkhole

But today civil engineering experts renewed their calls for action over the state of the city's roads.

Last week the Evening Times reported that a bus had become lodged in a sinking part of a bus lane at Glasgow's George Square.

The incident occurred when the double-decker got stuck in a gaping crater caused by subsidence from a burst water main.

But the council are adamant the episode would have no impact on the proposed transformation of Glasgow's civic centre.

As exclusively revealed in the Evening Times just weeks ago, the £15m redevelopment of the square will begin on February 14, with the removal of its historic statues.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said the burst pipe will "not have any impact" on the square's redevelopment.

However, a civil engineering expert spoke out in light of the bus drama and voiced his concerns at the lack of attention given to our streets.

Ronnie Hunter, vice-chairman of the Institution of Civil Engineers in Scotland, said: "Throughout Scotland we are concerned adequate money needs to be given to road maintenance and it is not something that can be ignored.

"If it is, then you get issues like this cropping up all the time. Buses exert a particular heavy load near to bus stops, breaking and traction forces, so its an area you would want to keep an eye on.

"Sometimes you get the road surface gets squashed up against the kerb, so its a known weak area and you'd want to look out for this."

A council spokesman responded: "The incident in George Square would not have been prevented by any level of investment in our roads, no matter how high.

"It was a fault underneath the road, not in the road itself.

"The council has rapidly increased its investment in roads, spending some £46m in the last three years. We have also increased the amount we spend on early interventions.

"However, we are absolutely clear that the number of defects on the network is still too high and our goal is to achieve a condition that meets the expectations of road users."

Recently, Glasgow's streets have suffered a number of incidents relating to subsidence and sink holes.

In November, a section of road surface in Sauchiehall Street collapsed to reveal a deep void.

There was also a sinkhole on the junction at Renfrew Street, West Nile and Killermont Street which was cordoned off for more than two months before being repaired.

Mr Hunter said that the most likely cause of the holes appearing was through water lying underneath the roads.

Basement leaks, burst water mains (like the incident on George Square), broken sewers or even old mine shafts could be the source of the water damage.

He said: "Glasgow is a large city with a very old infrastructure and therefore you almost have to expect this.

"The only way you can mitigate it against it is to carry out pretty constant inspections and when you find something going on to get in there and fix it. So speed of reaction is actually quite important.

"I suspect we're moving towards a reactive time, rather than a pre-emptive time and that's important to address if you don't want big problems."

Mr Hunter also called for service authorities to take advantage of the oncoming works at the square to implement any changes.

He added: "People who plan that will want to look at that area in its totality because if you're building something new on top, then you always want to look at what's below.

"You don't want to build something new on top, then a service authority comes along and says they want to renew a mains pipe.

"That has to be planned into it, so they all have to be given the opportunity to upgrade or fix their plant before the new works go ahead."

In regards to the bus trapped in George Square, a Scottish Water spokesman said it was an "isolated incident".

He said: "We have currently no plans to replace the water mains network in George Square."

A council spokesman added: "The council works closely with other bodies, such as utilities, to ensure that the cause of any fault is identified and all necessary repairs are carried out safely."

Local government

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