Indefinite delays to Bristol’s £55M “super sewer” designed to reduce flooding in the city and beyond has been blamed on transportation problems afflicting the project’s huge tunnel boring machine (TBM).

There is now no date set for start of Wessex Water’s  new sewer. The authority claimed the project had been hit by “problems of transportation”, but did not amplify on the reason for the delay, citing “commercial sensitivity”.

The TBM, locally dubbed “Bristol’s biggest bore”, was set to go underground in April and travel 5.5km northwards for nearly two years. The sewer will connect Bristol’s existing trunk sewer in Lawrence Weston to the Frome Valley relief sewer near Cribbs Causeway, in north Bristol.

A statement issued by Wessex Water said the sewer extension would decrease the risk of flooding across Bristol and south Gloucestershire.

The water authority added there is not a set date for the project to start now, due to transport issues and the impact of coronavirus on businesses and livelihoods in the UK.

The completed tunnel will run under both the M5 and Network Rail’s Henbury Loop freight railway.

J Murphy and Sons was the principal contractor on the project. A spokesperson for the company said it had nothing to add beyond Wessex Water’s statement.

Wessex Water had declared it would unveil the TBM this Wednesday (18 March) in Lawrence Weston Road in Bristol, the start point for the journey. The innovative use of the TBM deep underground will decrease the disruption to Bristol in comparison to trench digging above ground.

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