Bus stops relocation plans for Derry city centre progressing ahead of waterworks

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Discussions to temporarily relocate Derry’s main Metro bus stops on Foyle Street to facilitate a major £4m water system upgrade are progessing, it has been confirmed.

NI Water, which unveiled details of the major works back in October, confirmed to the Journal it was also engaging with local traders to facilitate pedestrian access throughout.

It emerged during a Council meeting back in October that the works would necessitate the closing off of stretches of one Derry’s busiest streets temporarily in four stages from the Peace Park to just past the Orchard Street / Water Street junction. Doing it in this phased way will mean that there will still be access to the bus station throughout, with extensive partnership work with Translink on this, Derry & Strabane elected representatives were told.

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Foyle Metro bus stops along Foyle Street meanwhile will temporarily have to be relocated elsewhere during the works, with negotiations ongoing to obtain Foyle Street car park next to the Peace Park for temporary halts.

Talks are ongoing over potentially moving bus stops temporarily to the Peace Park car park to facilitate the proposed upgrade works.Talks are ongoing over potentially moving bus stops temporarily to the Peace Park car park to facilitate the proposed upgrade works.
Talks are ongoing over potentially moving bus stops temporarily to the Peace Park car park to facilitate the proposed upgrade works.

Several months on, and a spokesperson for NI Water has now confirmed to the Journal that the plans are still on track.

The spokesperson said: “NI Water is continuing to liaise with key stakeholders with regards to the temporary use of Foyle Street Car Park to accommodate the upgrades to the water and wastewater network on Foyle Street.

“The project team has also been liaising with businesses on Foyle Street and has gathered important operational and logistical information to enable the construction management plan to be progressed.

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“Providing approvals and funding are obtained in early 2024, we envisage work starting within the car park in Spring 2024, with work on Foyle Street getting under way in Summer 2024."

Bus stops for Foyle Metro will move during the works programme.Bus stops for Foyle Metro will move during the works programme.
Bus stops for Foyle Metro will move during the works programme.

Public information events will be held in advance of any construction works commencing, and key stakeholders will be told when approvals and funding have been secured, the spokesperson said, adding: “The proposed works on Foyle Street will be carried out in phases with pedestrian access maintained at all times, and every effort will be made to minimise disruption.”

The work is deemed necessary due to capacity and infrastructure issues with the current waste and storm water infrastructure, and it emerged that the upgrade could bring significant benefits, including removing a major impediment to planning applications, including one for a Whiskey Emporium on Foyle Street.

Addressing Council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee back in October, Robert McLean, NI Water senior project manager in capital delivery said that the sewage system along Foyle Street is around 100 years old, having been installed in the 1920s. It consisted, he said, of one combined foul and storm, egg-shaped sewer system, which was, he said, no longer normal and would have been “built in the Victorian ages”.

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He said that at present the system requires regular cleaning due to silting and there was a need to separate the storm flow. New connections onto this sewer system cannot be accepted due to its capacity, and the risk of sewage overflowing and impacting homes, businesses and the environment in the Foyle Street area, he said.

Extensive engagement between NI Water and Translink has been undertaken to ensure access to Foyle Street Bus Station during the works. DER2126GS - 046Extensive engagement between NI Water and Translink has been undertaken to ensure access to Foyle Street Bus Station during the works. DER2126GS - 046
Extensive engagement between NI Water and Translink has been undertaken to ensure access to Foyle Street Bus Station during the works. DER2126GS - 046

A 100-year-old ductile iron watermain on Foyle Street also needs to be replaced, and it is proposed to upgrade this at the same time as part of the £4.2m works, which are subject to funding availability, licenses and land agreements.

Funding is expected to be in place soon and a business case has been submitted. The plan is to commence construction this summer and to have the project completed by summer 2025.

Plans to revive Derry’s rich tradition of whiskey distillation and breathe life into some of our city’s heritage buildings on Foyle Street via a new ‘Watt’s Whiskey Emporium’ were revealed last year.

Mr McLean said: “Our proposal with the storm separation will remove a significant volume of storm water from the existing wastewater network and this will have a benefit to such applications as this one here for the whiskey distillery."

The work would be carried out in phases along Foyle Street, the Council has been told.The work would be carried out in phases along Foyle Street, the Council has been told.
The work would be carried out in phases along Foyle Street, the Council has been told.

He said NI Water have been carrying out investigations from the north to the south of Foyle Street for eight years, including using CCTV to assess the state of the sewer, ground investigations while 500 tonnes of de-silting and jetting has been carried out over that time.