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Hastings avoids getting caught short

When a drainage system at some public toilets in Hastings collapsed, Blockbusters Contracts was called in to carry out repairs. With Hastings being a holiday hotspot, keeping traffic disruption to a minimum was vital

During initial excavation works voiding was discovered below the reinforced road surfaceDuring initial excavation works voiding was discovered below the reinforced road surface

Crews at Blockbusters Contracts have undertaken a major drainage repair job on the promenade in Hastings, East Sussex. The project on the Warrior Square public toilets required a large excavation in the main A259, which is the main ingress and egress route in to and out of Hastings.

In the current financial climate many local authorities are saving money by reducing the number of public conveniences, however in a major tourist destination and holiday spot like Hastings any lack of public toilets would be a significant headache for the town.

So, when one of the conveniences on the main promenade fails massive problems can ensue. This was unfortunately the problem that arose at the Warrior Square toilets.

Operated by Hastings Environmental Services, the Warrior Square toilets suffered a collapse in the drainage system taking waste effluent away from the site. This led to back up in the system that caused sewage from the toilets to spill out onto the promenade and ultimately onto the nearby sea front and beach. This would normally mean a simple repair to fix the collapse and bring the public toilet back on line.

However, the major drawback for this site was that the sewage pipe in question lay some 5.5m below the main A259.

This was where Blockbusters Contracts came in. Blockbusters holds all the correct accreditations for working in the public highway and was able to undertake such works.

Tim Hayes, head of business development for Blockbusters, investigated the site and found that the ground conditions above the repair site not only comprised made-up spoil including shingle / clay but that the road surface itself was also heavily reinforced.

Hayes, together with Blockbusters head of ancillary repairs Kevin Began, hatched a plan to make good the Hastings repair and minimise disruption to traffic.

From the outset it was understood by all concerned that there would need to be some degree of traffic disruption simply because of the location of the problem. To minimise this disruption to traffic flows it was decided to employ an extensive traffic management system that was manned and manually operated for 12 hours a day throughout the course of the repair project.

The plan was simple − to excavate down 6m to the site of the pipe damage, back-fill the hole according to current standards, and reinstate the road to the highest standard possible.

During the course of the initial excavation, however, a void was discovered beneath the highway. The local highways inspector was called in and it was agreed that the void should also be made good along with the full reinstatement of the road reinforcement as part of the pipe repair operation.

To make the excavation safely a 13t digger was used onsite for the main part of the excavation works. A smaller 3t digger was used for support work as required. Both diggers were supplied by Central Plant Hire.

Due to the depth of the excavation, temporary support systems were required during both the excavation process and the pipe repair operation.

This was achieved using box shuttering and close-pile shuttering systems, both of which were supplied by Pro Mech.

The whole excavation operation being the major portion of the overall scheme required significant time and effort in getting the planning correct to ensure minimum time onsite whilst effectively completing the work at least disruption to traffic flows and the town in general.

Once the access shaft had been excavated to the required depth and all necessary support had been placed the Blockbuster crew was able to install a new clay pipe to make the repair.

Furthermore, the internal pipe to the public convenience has also been replaced with new PVC pipe.

The works commenced on June 17, 2013 and were completed with the public toilets back in use by July 2, 2013. Blockbusters was under instruction to complete the operation using a 12-hour day shift pattern, so a split shift system was put in place to ensure the works were completed in the time frame allowed.

Hayes says: “Whilst at first this project may have looked like just another deep-hole pipe repair job, it was very much different in practice. Traffic management and keeping the traffic flow going on this road was essential. This involved time on site with the local authority traffic team to ensure that the traffic light system being used to maintain the flows had the correct timings.

“Further to this it was also essential that access to a nearby tea room on the Promenade was maintained at all times so the amenity could remain open and fully functional during the works. The speed at which the job had to be completed was a vital part of the planning programme.

This was because as a local festival was due to start in the town on July 13 and the works location was right in the centre of where the festival was to be held and so needed to finished and gone before the festival start date.”

The work was not without its dangers. Hayes explains: “The toilets in question were known to be used by local drug addicts and there was danger of ‘sharps’ being found at the site despite there being ‘sharps shoots’ available for needles. This was an added risk for the crew on the project.”
Mel Weir, Hastings Environmental Services project officer, says: “Although we were all under a fair amount of pressure during the works everything was kept to programme and the outcome will make this site easier to maintain in the future. Of course the works did cause quite a delay for motorists along the A259 which was unfortunately unavoidable.

Local businesses in the area were in touch with me throughout the work programme, and although there were some disruptions to trade in the area, everyone understood the necessity of keeping this busy shoreline public toilet in use.” 

Topic: Pipes & Pipelines
Tags: local authorities , effluent , sewage , traffic

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