Plans to carry out both the £750k public realm works and an overhaul of the sewer system in Lurgan at the same time have been met with disbelief.
Several residents and traders said both are major projects and affect large sections of the entire town which will undoubtedly lead to major traffic chaos and a drop in footfall.
With substantial work in the town centre digging up footpaths for the new public realm works and open trenches to work on the sewers, some traders and shoppers said both the stench and the disruption could put people off from shopping in the town.
One local businessman in Union Street said: “It will be a complete disaster. They are trying to get a Chamber of Commerce up and running but all this is doing is taking business away.”
The businessman is not convinced that the previous public realm works were a success. While he admitted it had helped to clean the town up, he believes the work took too long and drove customers away. “You try to complain but it doesn’t seem to matter,” he said.
A number of other business people have voiced concern that major sewer works on the arterial routes into Lurgan could deter people from visiting the town.
However NI Water has sought to allay fears saying it will work closely with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council to minimise any delays. A spokesperson said: “The work planned is Stage I of the NI Water Sewer Rehabilitation Contract. This will include pipeline/manhole cleaning and CCTV surveys, which will identify any defects, and define the scope of work to be carried out in Stage II. Whether or not further rehabilitation work will be needed on these sewers will depend on the results of these checks. It would appear that the only area of overlap with other work is in Union St; Phase I investigation work is likely to be completed within this area in mid-September. NI Water, along with our contractor, has consulted with Transport NI regarding the work in this area. Once complete, NI Water will be in a position to confirm the extent of rehabilitation work required in this area and will discuss the programming of future work with Transport NI and the Council.
“Where possible, we will endeavour to carry out any rehabilitation work required using ‘low-dig’ or ‘no-dig’ techniques. However, some open trench work may be required in places. NI Water will continue to consult with Transport NI regarding location and timing of work in the Lurgan area and will endeavour to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum and work is completed as soon as practicably possible.”
A spokesperson for Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council said: “In relation to the Public Realm works in Lurgan, council has had a number of meetings with Transport NI as adopting authority.
“We advised all utility providers, including NI Water, of our proposed scheme in Church Walk, Castle Lane, Union Street, Carnegie Street and Watson’s Lane.
“Council will continue to work closely with all utility providers and other stakeholders to ensure the efficient delivery of the public realm scheme, with as little disruption as possible.