Schoolchildren cut off by flooded Park Street underpass

DEEP flooding in an underpass has been forcing pupils heading to school to get soaked or risk their lives crossing a busy dual carriageway.

The footpath underneath the A414 in Park Street – used by many people including pupils heading to and from Marlborough School – is regularly flooded after heavy rainfall but it reached waist height in places on Monday morning following the weekend’s deluge.

Concerned parents have heard that some children have run across the A414 where it joins the Park Street roundabout to avoid getting drenched and other pupils have had to resort to removing footwear and clothing to ensure they get to school dry.

Rubbish clogging the gullies is largely to blame for the flooding but there is a suspected water leak further up the A414 which seems to be compounding the problem further.

But parents are calling for the situation to be urgently addressed before somebody is seriously injured or killed crossing the road.

Tina Fisher, whose son attends the school, said: “Last week my son came home from school and his shoes were soaked and his socks were absolutely drenched.

“He walked through the underpass in the morning to get to school and sat in his shoes and socks all day. And it’s not just him, this happens to lots of children.”

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Her son started riding his bike to school this week to avoid having to walk through the flood but the water has been so high that it remains impossible to emerge from the tunnel without getting sodden and he will now have to rely on lifts every time it rains heavily.

When Mrs Fisher visited the underpass on Monday morning to record a video to post on YouTube she found a young mother having to push a pram through the murky water as she had no other means of getting to the other side of the road.

Andrea Clegg said the water was waist-height on Monday when her son went to walk to school. She added: “My son is 17 and knows to say something but there will be some young children who will just sit there with wet shoes all day and don’t say anything or, worse, cross the road and not even tell their mum and dad.”

Both Mrs Fisher and Mrs Clegg suspect that there is a leak of some form along the A414 as during heavy rainfall water runs down the hill and into the underpass resembling a “river.”

A spokesperson for Herts Highways said: “We went to have a look at the flood and there was litter in the gullies causing some problems but when that was removed the flood dissipated within about 30 minutes.

“But there does appear to be a water leak further up the A414 which overwhelms the system in heavy rainfall and we have informed Veolia who we have asked to attend the site within 24 hours as we want them to confirm this.”

The spokesperson said that the county council will also be asking St Albans district council to look into increasing litter picking around the area.

He urged anyone who sees any further flooding to contact Herts Highways urgently on 0300 1234047.