£18m job comes to an end

The storm water tank under construction at the bus station
The storm water tank under construction at the bus station

One of Lancaster’s biggest engineering projects is now coming to an end, bringing with it huge benefits for the district’s coast and river.

It’s been a turbulent couple of years on Lancaster’s road netword as water company United Utilities worked to install huge underground storage tanks for the city’s waste water.

Prior to the work and following heavy rainfall, sewage water was running freely into the river Lune, and then out to sea, making bathing in Morecambe Bay an unsavoury experience.

But thanks to the installation of an Olympic swimming pool sized storage tank under the bus station, another smaller one in Bulk Road, and new and larger pipes across the city, the sewer system in Lancaster is now able to cope with much more excess water.

Once the rain subsides after heavy rainfall, storm water will be released from the tanks and sent to the treatment works through the network of pipes to be fully cleaned.

The £18m project, which started in March 2013 and is due to finish three months ahead of schedule, took over 100,000 working hours to complete.

Dawn Harrington, project manager for the work, said: “This massive engineering project has been completed for environmental reasons, and that is the great thing about it.

“It’s all about the River Lune and the bathing waters off our coast and making it look as good as it can.”

Dawn said she was well aware at times that the work had emotions running high.

“Monday, September 15 is a day that sticks in my mind. We always knew our final phase of work which involved closing part of the one-way system was going to cause disruption, especially whilst everyone familiarised themselves with the changes,” she said.

“And sure enough we witnessed queues stretching throughout Lancaster. I really felt for everyone who had their journey times extended. But behind the scenes we worked very hard to make changes, which in the end did have a positive impact on traffic movement around the city.”

To soften the blow, United Utilities’ Community Fund paid out £30,000 to local good causes, and the company also handed over £50,000 to Lancaster BID, which was used to fund the Christmas lights switch-on event. It also sponsored Lancaster’s signature bike race. When asked to sum up the project, Dawn said: “It’s something you don’t build every day. It’s been very challenging but very rewarding at the same time. But when all is said and done I would like to thank everyone in Lancaster for their patience and support.”

She added: “All the work should be completed in December. The remaining work left is general maintenance – putting back kerbs and reinstating pavements and making sure we put back things as we found them.”