Edinburgh driver gets scare after manhole 'explodes' under car during floods

An Edinburgh driver got a scare when a manhole burst open as he drove along a flood-hit road in Clermiston.

Tuesday, 25th June 2019, 7:30 pm
The damage to Lewis's front left wheel. Pic: Lewis Johnstone

Lewis Johnstone said he was lucky the car didn't crash into any pedestrians as it veered left following what he described as an "explosion" from beneath the vehicle, near to a Scotmid store in the Clermiston area of the city.

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The 20-year-old, who lives in Sighthill, was driving home from his work in Cramond when the incident happened at about 2:20pm on Monday.

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The damage to Lewis's front left wheel. Pic: Lewis Johnstone

He said: "I heard this really big bang under the car and the water started gushing out.

"It was pretty scary. It's pulled the car to the left towards the pavement and it could have been a different story if someone was walking up the street. Someone could have been there and a car could have ploughed into them.

"I was near enough on the pavement but I just caught it in time, it just made contact with the pavement."

Lewis said he was driving along the road at about 20mph during Monday's floods when a manholes burst open beneath his car and damaged the front left wheel and tyre.

The damage up close.

While in ankle deep floodwater, he was forced to change the wheel before taking the car to a garage in Gorgie.

Lewis says the cost of a new tyre was about £44 and that his damaged alloy will cost up to £300 to fix.

He said he initially contacted the council for an explanation and to ask for them to pay for the damage, but they directed him to Scottish Water and said it was their responsibility.

Damage to the tyre.

Lewis said: "Personally I think they (manhole covers) should be bolted down because they should take into account the chance of heavy rain and that this could happen."

Pictures show that cones had been placed around the damaged part of the road following the manhole burst, and the roads authority has since repaired it.

A Scottish Water spokesman said: "The extreme rainfall event in the West of Edinburgh on Monday impacted sewers and surface water drains with excess water for a short period. Sometimes this causes manhole covers and their frames to be dislodged.

"It is possible to bolt down manhole covers to prevent them becoming dislodged, however this is not general practice as this can simply transfer the risk to other locations and present a health and safety risk of increased hydraulic pressure in the sewer network.

The council has since repaired the road.

"Scottish Water is not liable for damage unless proven to have acted negligently. The driver of the vehicle involved is welcome to contact us directly to discuss this."