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Time to close Carlisle's grotty underpass?

A grotty underpass that links Carlisle’s Upper Viaduct car park with James Street swimming baths could be closed for good.

John Bird photo
John Bird

The News & Star highlighted a complaint last month from Liz and John Bird who are frequent users of the graffiti-covered subway. The couple from Morton said they had to dodge human excrement, broken glass and crumbling steps, which they branded a “health hazard”.

The complaint brought a swift response from Carlisle City Council, which sent in a mechanical sweeper and a member of staff to clean the steps by hand.

Now Elsie Martlew, the executive member for environment and transport, is questioning if the underpass should be closed altogether.

She said: “Perhaps we should look at whether or not to close this underpass as there is a better alternative to accessing the baths from the car park.

“There are pedestrian crossings over Viaduct Estate Road and Victoria Viaduct, so there is no need for it. It’s not a nice place at the best of times. It’s a relic from the 1960s and 1970s.”

Any decision on closure would be Cumbria County Council’s, as the highway authority.

Mrs Martlew added: “I will probably take this to the county’s Carlisle local committee.”

A county council city-centre working party considered the future of the underpass as long ago as 2004.

But the group decided to take no action, apart from recommending that lighting be improved. The Birds say the underpass is getting progressively worse.

Mr Bird said: “It would be a shame if it did close. It’s a more direct route than using the pedestrian crossings and you avoid the steep pull up hill from the baths to Victoria Viaduct.”

Have your say

We have totally the wrong attitude in this country to issues like this. I use the underpass regularly, it is full of broken glass and it stinks of urine. It needs a good clean up, get the cider club who congregate there or a community pay back team to give it a lick of paint. Get the youth who congregate cause the damage to fix it and they are more likely to respect their own efforts. Also the odd bit of monitoring by the boys in blue wouldn't go amiss.

Posted by Thomas The Tank Engine on 23 July 2012 at 17:46

Surely its just a value for money question. How much use does it get? What is the maintenance cost and what would be the cost of better lights/ refurbishing etc. I walk that way a lot and never use it because I prefere waiting at traffic lights to walking though a dark damp space smelling of urine.

Posted by taxpayer on 22 July 2012 at 22:11

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