Getting set for the arrival of Phoenix

Getting set for the arrival of Phoenix

6 December 2017

WORK on a £6m investment to bring mains gas to Downpatrick begins on January 2.

Contractors working for Phoenix Natural Gas arrive in the New Year to lay a mains pipe from the Ballydugan Road through the centre of the town to New Bridge Street and hope to have this key aspect of the scheme completed by mid-March.

One week after workmen start laying a mains pipe at the Ballydugan Road close to the entrance to the Asda store, a second team of workers will start to lay a mains pipe at New Bridge Street.

It is anticipated that if no major issues arise, work to lay the pipe from the Ballydugan Road to the Market Street junction with Irish Street could take as little around three weeks to complete, with mains gas potentially flowing by next spring.

Contractors, who are hoping for favourable underground conditions, will be using a directional drilling system which negates the need for traditional trench digging, which may be required if rock is found beneath the road surface.

Phoenix has confirmed that when contractors are working in Market Street, a temporary one-way traffic system will be introduced, with cars able to travel up Market Street towards the Ulster Bank corner. 

Work to lay a section of piping in front of the Down Arts Centre will be carried out on a Sunday in a bid to minimise disruption to town centre trade, a move that has been welcomed by the business community.

Phoenix has also confirmed that two-way traffic flow will be maintained while contractors are working in New Bridge Street and Church Street. Contractors will also liaise daily with business owners to keep them appraised of developments and to ascertain when they are expecting deliveries so these can be accommodated.

Jonathan Martindale, Phoenix’s sales and marketing director, said the company is acutely aware that bringing mains gas to towns does have an impact, explaining everything possible will be done to minimise disruption and to keep traffic flowing.

“Laying the mains pipe is the big challenge for us. Once it is in place, connections then branch off to other parts of Downpatrick using smaller piping and we aim to pass as many homes and properties as possible over the five-year contract,” he explained.

“We do not believe the work to connect homes will create major issues as we will be using the underground, directional drilling system. There will be free connections from the pipe to residential properties and the majority of the work to lay all our pipes uses non intrusive technology.”

Mr Martindale said Phoenix is acutely aware that what concerns people most is pipe laying in town centres as this has the potential to frustrate business owners, commuters and residents who want to access schools and a range of other facilities.

“We know this is the bit we have to get right and will be endeavouring to do this in Downpatrick, keeping traffic flowing and minimising disruption. We recognise the challenges we face and will work to nip in the bud any issues which may arise. We are aware of Downpatrick’s traffic congestion issue and have planned to minimise disruption as best we can,” he said.

Mr Martindale said while work in Downpatrick is scheduled to take five years to complete, pipe laying in the town centre main thoroughfare should finish within weeks of it starting as part of Phoenix’s plans to minimise disruption.

“While have set aside five years to complete the £6m investment, the work could potentially take less time. A lot will depend on the underground conditions contractors come across and if extra time is needed to negotiate pipes and cables belonging to other utilities,” he said.

Mr Martindale added: “We are making natural gas available across Downpatrick and will work with residents and the business community as the project progresses, doing everything we possibly can to minimise disruption. We will do all we can to maintain access to homes, businesses, shops and schools and work to ensure any issues which may arise are dealt with promptly.”