diamond geezer

 Sunday, July 08, 2018

Local News: Burst water main causes flooding chaos in Bow

Around nine thirty on Friday evening, a pipe under Fairfield Road cracked. It took a bollard with it. Water gushed everywhere.

A lake erupted along Bow Road. Traffic suddenly found itself in deep water, up to half a metre deep in places.

Ten fire engines turned up, along with 72 firefighters and some private vans which said 'Floodcall' on the side.

And I would have been entirely oblivious to this, sat indoors just down the road, had Twitter not sprung into action.
[Fire Brigade tweet] [Met Police tweet] [1 minute video] [37 second video] [27 second video]

So I went out to have a look, taking care to fill my kettle first in case my water supply was about to conk out.

It's not every day you find several fire engines parked outside your house, the crew stood around while a thick tube descends into a neighbour's basement to pump them dry. Bow Road was very much sealed off to traffic. I got my trainers wet attempting to cross to the other side. A group of young people sat on the steps in front of the Roman Catholic church, beyond the police tape, watching proceedings.

Whilst the situation now appeared to be under control, and the lake had shrunk considerably, a flow of water was still making its way round the corner, past the supermarket and down either side of Bow Church. The drains in the blue gutters caught most of it, but some trickled onwards using the banks of the Cycle Superhighway as an artificial channel. One stream pooled above the ramped access to a bus stop bypass, then spilled over the top creating a particularly attractive water feature (unless you were a cyclist, but now was not the time).

The fire brigade hung around until dawn, and then Thames Water made a start on repairing the cracked roadway. In daylight the mess was obvious, with cracks and excavated rubble everywhere, and men in hi-vis with diggers doing their best. My taps were still running fine, but less fortunate properties were now reliant on an inadequate supply of free bottled water.

The bottom of Fairfield Road remained fenced off, denying passage to anything that wasn't on foot or two wheels, which was causing big problems on the buses. A blockage here meant no double deckers could get in or out of Bow Garage, so only buses which were out of the depot were still in play, and routes 8 and 205 were being forced to operate a 50% service.

At breakfast time Bow Road was also still closed to traffic, with a fine residue of light brown mud in places where the temporary river had been. A few puddles remained. At bus stop M, the Countdown display merrily announced the arrival of buses which weren't coming, indeed couldn't possibly have arrived. Cyclists and pedestrians enjoyed the opportunity to wander wherever the hell they liked, from the flyover all the way up to Campbell Road. Car drivers, forced to divert down inadequate sidestreets, were less chuffed.

By lunchtime the traffic on Bow Road was flowing again. By late afternoon the offending cracked pipe had been removed from underneath Fairfield Road and dumped on the roadway. Fresh blue plastic pipes were lined up close by ready to become a replacement connection. By dusk the water supply for numerous properties still hadn't been switched back on, which in this heat must've been no fun. The Bow Bells pub remained closed all day, due to a flooded cellar. And as for the hole, with underground spaghetti now visible threaded above an irregular void, it doesn't look like anything'll be driving over it any time soon.

A couple of years ago this same corner of Bow Road and Fairfield Road caused considerable problems for contractors working on the upgrade of Cycle Superhighway 2, thanks to some awkwardness underground, and they had to keep coming back to do lengthy extra repairs. I also note that this latest cracked pipe has occurred at the precise point where Crossrail's northbound tunnel passes under Fairfield Road, which may of course be a complete coincidence. But best keep an eye.

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