£19million down the drain - Gdynia Way floods months after roadworks
ONE of the city's busiest roads was closed by overflowing drains – less than a year after its multi-million-pound revamp.
The city's top judge has joined city leaders and angry business bosses in demanding answers over why Gdynia Way was so badly affected.
The busy stretch was shut for more than seven hours yesterday after torrential rain swept across the South West.
Flooding was reported all over the city, beginning in the early hours, leaving some residents homeless and others in need of rescuing from deep water.
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Addressing a jury which had been kept waiting for 15 minutes to begin a trial at Plymouth Crown Court, Judge Paul Darlow described the road flood debacle as "astonishing".
Gdynia Way, the main route into Plymouth from the east, was closed last year as part of the £19million East End Transport Project, begun in 2010 in a bid to improve traffic flows in the area.
But Judge Darlow said: "You may want to ask why, having to put up with months and months of roadworks, the first time we have serious rainfall, we have flooding.
"It is astonishing. That has been responsible for putting a lot of business back in this court one way or another."
Last night it was still unclear who was to blame for the fiasco in Gdynia Way, which caused lengthy delays in the morning rush-hour.
Plymouth City Council pointed to an overflowing sewer owned by South West Water.
But the water company said the council only alerted it to the problems yesterday afternoon.
Business leaders and companies based nearby echoed Judge Darlow's comments about the pricey roadworks.
David Parlby, chief executive of the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, said: "The big question mark for me is if the flooding took place where the road works were done, was the design well thought out to take account of weather conditions?
"If it was not a one-in-100-years episode and is going to happen again, I would like to see something done about it."
Ray Griffin, who runs The Morley Arms in Billacombe Road, said he would have expected the flooding issue to have been sorted out as part of recent roadworks.
"When they rebuilt it they could have made some provision," he said.
"It's short sighted."
Dennis Mallett, business director at neighbouring Tony Hole Marine Ltd, said: "It beggars belief.
"I would have thought they would have sorted the drainage. It's unbelievable.
"It's an ongoing nightmare, and another reason for people not to want to come to this part of the city.
"Anybody in Faraday Mill or around here must have been tearing their hair out this morning."
Mr Mallett's wife Janet, who also works at the business, said: "I can't understand how they did the road works and did not foresee it flooding and put in drainage at the same time."
At Faraday Furnishings, in Faraday Mill, owner Rob Jones labelled the situation "pathetic".
"An artic took an hour to get from Marsh Mills to us," he said.
Gdynia Way was closed after a man driving a blue Mitsubishi Colt broke down in floodwater and became trapped.
Firefighters from Plymstock eventually pushed the vehicle clear, as flooding hit several parts of the city and surrounding areas.
A council spokeswoman said: "The flooding on Gdynia Way was caused by an overflowing sewer under Cattedown Road Bridge, which is owned by South West Water (SWW).
"Our crews were on site cleaning up the road from 3.30am and it re-opened at around 10.30am.
"We appreciate the difficulties SWW has been facing in dealing with this extreme storm event and the pressure it is putting on its system.
"We met with the company on site today and are awaiting feedback from them on whether any improvements can be made to reduce the risk of future flooding.
"We contacted SWW yesterday morning, even though it is SWW's responsibility to check its own sewers, and our engineers met with SWW on site at 2pm to discuss the problem."
However a spokeswoman from SWW said: "We were contacted about flooding on Gdynia Way by Plymouth City Council at 4.54pm.
"The problem was described as "seeping and stagnant" manhole cover.
"Very heavy rainfall has affected parts of our network across the region and our priority will be to respond to those customers whose properties have been flooded."
SWW said it would be monitoring Gdynia Way overnight..