A NUISANCE underpass beneath a stretch of busy dual-carriageway is being filled in by workmen following fears of crime and youths hanging around.
The underground walkway in Stockton Street, Hartlepool, used to allow access from the Hartlepool College of Further Education side of the road to Middleton Grange Shopping Centre until it was sealed off about two years ago.
It was closed due to complaints of anti-social behaviour, flooding and fear of crime following incidents such as a pregnant teenager fearing for her life as she was pushed to the floor, kicked and robbed in the subway.
Today Mike Blair, Hartlepool Borough Council’s highways, traffic and transport manager, said the defunct facility also became a drain on resources so the decision was made to have it filled in.
Engineers and labourers started work on filling it in over a week ago with economic polystyrene blocks packing out the centre of the underground void and then using rubble from the existing ramps to block the entrances and make it level with the pavement.
Workers are expected to be there for another three weeks.
Mr Blair told the Mail: “It’s basically one of those routes that wasn’t getting used very much for fear of crime, youths were hanging out in there on a night, and it was hard for us to maintain it in a reasonable condition.
“There were also issues with flooding and it was becoming a maintenance nightmare and for something that wasn’t getting used we felt it was more appropriate to fill it in.”
He added: “They are filling in the main body of the underpass with polystyrene blocks and either side is being filled in with rubble from the walls and then it will be all flagged over.”
In August 2005, a 17-year-old, who was seven months pregnant with her first child, was attacked by a man in the underpass.
The mum-to-be was walking through the tunnel to use the public phone in Church Square when the man got her to the ground, kicked her and then stole £25 from her bag before lighting a cigarette and walking away.