Not since Manchester dusted itself down after hosting the 2008 Europa League Final has there been such an uneasy atmosphere in the city. Fear is hounding residents, blanketing its buildings and delaying the new Metrolink. This fear, however, isn’t arriving on coaches in the form of pissed Scots. This fear is underground, unseen by the human eye until the damage is done.
In August this year the Mancunian Way was brought to a close twice when sinkholes appeared. September saw the B532 in Salford closed when another was discovered and just last week Great Bridgewater Street fell victim.
“The city is not going to disappear,” said city Mayor Wexford Crestfuck. Keen to ease un-eased minds, he added: “Planning has already started for the Christmas Markets. We’d hardly do that if we thought Manchester was going to collapse around us.”
The Council’s Highways Infrastructure and Transport (HIT) spokeswoman Sheila Scrumpoke, addressed the nature of 90% of calls the HIT sinkhole hotline had received: “Coronation Street is not in danger. We anticipated this kind of problem when the new set was built. Not only are the famous cobbles sinkhole proof, they’re also earthquake and IRA proof.”
“Coronation Street is not in danger.”
What HIT has done is to seek advice from across the Atlantic, specifically Tampa, Florida; the home of Dr Bud Gratestreaker. Both he and his team flew into Manchester earlier this week and began their investigations. They have been at the forefront of sinkhole activity for nearly fifteen years. The doctor himself has a personal connection since his grandmother was swallowed by one in 2003.
“A sinkhole is created when the air that has been supporting the ground above suddenly expels,” he said. “It’s called geoflatulence. This causes whatever sits above; in Manchester’s case it appears to be only roads, to fall in on its self creating the hole.”
Using geotechnical engineering machinery throughout the city’s roads, Dr Gratestreaker’s team have scanned and identified certain core points they feel geoflatulence is possible and have been swift to take action.
“The process we use is called Pricking,” he explained. “We insert a steel rod into the identified area which allows the air to escape. At the same time, another steel rod pumps a solidifying solution, not unlike expanding foam, into the void and fills it.”
When pressed about where these ‘identified areas’ were, Dr Gratestreaker said: “Owing to health and safety and so we don’t scare away potential investors, we cannot divulge exact locations….but I’d avoid Deansgate next week.”
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