UPDATE: Disruption likely as controversial Lowestoft roadworks set to continue this weekend
THE controversial roadworks that have caused major traffic problems and prompted council anger in Lowestoft are set to continue this weekend..
The Anglian Water works to make essential repairs to a damaged sewer in Station Square were due to be completed by yesterday (Friday).
However, despite a pledge from the company that traffic control measures should be cleared by yesterday morning, problems have arose meaning that the works will 'continue over the weekend.'
For the last three weeks, motorists have suffered long tailbacks as a result of the work, which has left some drivers facing a diversion of up to a mile.
And now more delays are likely this weekend.
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Anglian Water spokesman, Antony Innes, said: 'We have been working hard this week, in difficult conditions, to finish the last part of the emergency sewer repair project in Station Square, Lowestoft.
'Around 60 metres of sewer has been relined to improve its strength and durability, reducing the chances of a future collapse or blockage.
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'Unfortunately, a small section of this relining has not worked as it should, meaning work will need to continue over the weekend to rectify the problem,' Mr Innes said.
'We are very sorry that this has delayed the conclusion of this project and will cause further disruption to residents and businesses over the weekend.
'Throughout this project we have been working hard to make sure repairs are completed as soon as possible. However, with such a complex job and in such bad weather there is always a chance of unexpected delays,' he added.
'Work remains ahead of schedule but we appreciate people may be frustrated it is taking longer than we thought it would a few days ago. 'We share that frustration but will be working throughout the weekend to complete the job.'
The company also apologised for a blunder last week that led to it announcing the roadworks would be cleared between last Friday night and Tuesday in preparation for the final stage of the sewer repairs.
The 'miscommunication' followed an earlier oversight by the region's biggest water company which forgot to notify Waveney District Council about the work.
Anglian Water's failure to contact the council gave the authority no time to prepare for the disruption caused by the work which has been blamed for traffic gridlock and a fall in takings at some town centre stores which claim people have been put off coming into Lowestoft to shop.
The final stages of the work on Thursday saw a protective 'sock-like membrane' being fed into a 60m section of sewer before it was heated to cause it to set rock-hard.
Mr Innes said: 'Anglian Water and contractors May Gurney have been working since late January to repair a collapsed section of sewer some 5m below the road surface.
'The last stage of this project is to coat the inside of almost 60m of sewer with a new lining to improve more of the sewers in Lowestoft.
'We will access the sewers via manholes, so that we don't need to dig up the road. You could say this is keyhole surgery for sewers.
'A sock-like membrane will be fed into the sewer, before it is heated to set it rock-hard. This new lining coats the inside of the pipe, significantly reducing the chances of further collapses and blockages.'
As previously reported, Stephen Baker, the chief executive of Waveney District Council, sent a strongly-worded letter to Anglian Water asking why the council had not been formally told about the work, which was initially earmarked to last five weeks.
He was incensed after finding out about the repairs and resulting diversion after reading details in The Journal.
Lowestoft mayor Tod Sullivan and Waveney MP Peter Aldous also voiced their concerns over Anglian Water's lack of communication, and businesses including Palmers and Godfreys said it had led to a loss in trade.
However, locals say the traffic problems were not solely down to the sewer repairs and, once again, it highlighted the need for a third crossing to relieve congestion in the town centre.