Blackwall Tunnel Closure

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Saturday 3 July 2010 10.41pm
Do you recall the chaotic scenes north of the river when Blackwall Tunnel was closed on the weekend of 04-07 June?
TFL has dropped a flyer through my door saying that when this process is repeated 09-12 July, and 16-19 July, that Rotherhithe Tunnel will be closed to northbound traffic but will be open southbound and will have two lanes for the southbound traffic.
Well it's a plan, let us hope it works okay without too many near misses.
In addition, Blackwall's normally southbound bore will have both lanes open for northbound traffic. Plus The Woolwich Ferry will run a two boat service from 06.10 - 22.00 on the Saturdays, and 09.00 - 21.30 on the Sundays.
Sunday 4 July 2010 9.23am
Thanks for the info, Tom. I remember that first occasion only too well. We drove up on the sixth of june for my daughter's opening night at the Globe Theatre. We left home in Westcliff at 3.45 for what should have been a hour and a half drive maximum, and arrived at 6.45, missing the first half hour of the production. I vowed that day that I would never drive to London again, but if that was all down to the tunnel closure, then it explains it all.
I'll cetainly keep my eye on those dates you've mentioned.
Sunday 4 July 2010 12.16pm
That was a shame Chalkey, that weekend was absolute hell trying to get anywhere from Canning Town to Chelsea.
It just goes to show the insouciance of TFL, and traffic planners in general.
While we all have to accept that these works and closures apparently have to take place, and that maybe, just maybe, the end product will be an improvement for the future, it is patently obvious that getting anywhere by road in London now is far, far, more difficult than it was prior to the Congestion Charge being introduced.
My theory is that the planners anticipated that a higher percentage of drivers would opt to discard their cars for public transport, cycles, mopeds, whatever, and to that end began their shortsighted road closing/narrowing programme.
Presumably, had those car drivers quit their cars for good the roads would have been able to cope reasonably with the remaining buses/taxis/goods vehicles and cars driven by those willing to pay the charge.
Instead, now we are saddled with worse volumes of traffic than before because the roads are disappearing but the traffic using what roads remain isn't.
Have you tried to travel from Hyde Park Corner to Piccadilly Circus recently? It doesn't matter if you are driving a car or are a passenger in a bus or taxi, it is horrendous, likewise all approaches to Trafalgar Square.
New Bond Street, 3 lanes wide, has but the centre lane available, the left and right lanes, both with yellow lines, are permanently full of parked cars and builders vans while myopic traffic wardens walk by discussing the World Cup.
Upper and Lower Thames Streets are almost permanently dug up, Cheapside is closed, Old Broad Street too, it is never ending. When Dr. Johnson allegedly said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life," he didn't have to suffer the traffic that 21st. century Londoners do.
Monday 5 July 2010 12.05pm
the road works in London are unbelievable - this is the worst city I've ever lived in for traffic congestion... I don't understand how the contractors get away with overrunning on every contract, small scale example I know but the London Cycle Scheme depot that is going in on Tanner Street was due to be complete on 22nd of June. It's now 5th July and they look no where near finishing...

There was a blood boiling article in the Evening Standard last week - there were 370,000 roadworks in London in the last 12 months!!!

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23817712-how-londons-drivers-fumed-over-370000-road-repairs-in-the-past-year.do
Monday 5 July 2010 7.56pm
DJ and phraze are preaching to the choir with their very apt comments on London's horrendous traffic congestion.
I have no choice but to face it every working day and it can can be truly frustrating at times.
Phraze, the reason that works over-run and contractors get away with it, is, IMHO, because the people who COULD do something about just could not care less.
Traffic nightmares might annoy you, me, DJ, and Chalkey, but those in authority's attitude can be summed up as, so what, suck it up!
Wednesday 7 July 2010 10.37am
I'm sure that if I said some sweeping bad generalization about taxi drivers, Tom Pepper would quite rightly be annoyed at me.
And therefore I'm a bit miffed that the general feeling here is so against road works, and traffic congestion.

The roads in London are currently going through a larger than usual amount of road works, mostly to do with Thames Water replacing all of the Victorian metal mains water piping with plastic ones that will last longer, and require less maintenance, and have less leakage.

All road works across London are coordinated to reduce the risk of roads near each other being dug up at the same time. Councils can put in place 'section 58' agreements that mean that no one can dig up a road for x number of months after a major resurfacing (unless it's an emergency repair), Utilities are working together so that roads are only dug up once for several things (like gas and water along Borough High St), and all road works in London can be found in one place on one website public access to Londonworks where the public can see what's planned for the future.

all roads and streetworks require a permit before they're allowed to begin, which includes start and end dates (duration), and there are heavy fines in place for contractors that overrun these deadlines (both for the highway authority (local council), the contractor, and the sub contractor actually doing the work). This is part of legislation under the New Roads and Streetworks Act. Utilites, and councils have been fined lots of money for overunning streetworks, and maintenance firms have lost contracts because of this too. So there is plenty at stake.

Most road works are carried out at times outside of the busiest road usage periods (because while doing work, they require more space for machinery, and lorries delivering or picking up materials, and plant), so mostly when you drive past, there will be no one on site. Contractors can only work so many hours a shift, and so many hours a week, and employing 3 shifts to do one job 24 hours a day, is very unusual, and only likely on a major job that needs to be done quickly, as it's just too expensive to pay the workforce all the extra for unsociable hours. Working outside of normal hours is also unusual, as you need to get extra permits, and fulfill further obligations if you're working at night, or over the weekend.

Road closures are often tried to be avoided, but are sometimes necessary under health and safety legislation, and the Health and Safety Executive have also fined companies for not implementing sufficient safegaurds for either public on/near to a site, and also workers on site.

As mentioned in the article linked, it was a very harsh winter just gone, and this has caused more than the normal amount of potholes, and these are being dealt with, but councils only have so much budget, and the worst roads are usually done first.

Once Thames Water have finished upgrading the mains water pipes, things should be return to a lower level, but there will always be road works, because road surfaces deteriorate over time.

and just to add, I work for a highways department for a local London Borough.
Wednesday 7 July 2010 11.19am
JonR - I'm afraid that you might be in the wrong job if you get miffed at people being fed up with roadworks in the city.

To the outsider, which the majority of people inevitably are, there seems to be a total lack of urgency or thought for the impact to local people when it comes to roadworks. We understand that work has to happen, that emergencies happen, but we don't understand why these 'emergencies' take so long to fix and why they need fixed so regularly. Why is there hole outside my flat that was dug up for 2 weeks, then filled in for 2 days only to be dug up again and left untouched for (so far) another 2 weeks? Why is Weston Street tunnel closed for its entire length with work only happening at the exit that you could drive around? etc etc...

Everyone on here, and I'd guess it'd be the same for every borough in London, will have their own tales of frustration. My own stem from the fact that I've lived on Bermondsey Street now for 18 months and I honestly can't remember a month that there hasn't been a bit of the street dug up. Across the city every road is a patchwork of potholes, mountainous speed bumps and temporary repairs. Look on any street in London and you'll see evidence of why people get frustrated.

Communication would really go a long way to helping. When you are waiting on a tube or a bus and the sign says you have to wait x amount of mins that's fine, when you are in a phone queue and they say you are in a queue of y amount of people that helps, but when it comes to roadworks when it says finished on 22nd June and the work is still happening on 7th July (like on Tyres Gate just now) you can understand why it pisses people off.



...and don't even get me started on parking ;)

/rant over.
Wednesday 7 July 2010 7.33pm
Oh, JonR. Where does one start?

"All road works across London are coordinated." Good idea but frankly I don't think that this really happens much. If so, why are they allowing the closure of Thomas St for the Shard at the same time as closing Borough High Street?

"Councils can put in place 'section 58' agreements." I suggest "can" is the operative word- do they do this much? (viz Bermondsey St, as Phraze mentions)

"all roads and streetworks require a permit before they're allowed to begin, which includes start and end dates (duration)." Fine, but does anyone have the resources to enforce this? Local experience says that the end date is flexible.

"there are heavy fines in place for contractors that overrun these deadlines (both for the highway authority (local council), the contractor, and the sub contractor actually doing the work)." Clearly these are not heavy enough as they don't seem to have much effect!

"...employing 3 shifts to do one job 24 hours a day, is very unusual, and only likely on a major job that needs to be done quickly, as it's just too expensive to pay the workforce all the extra for unsociable hours. Working outside of normal hours is also unusual, as you need to get extra permits, and fulfill further obligations if you're working at night, or over the weekend." I'd like to point out that we expect the railways to do exactly this as a matter of course (then we wonder why the railways are expensive to maintain!).

Last year there was weekend work done in Long Lane and the contractors always interpreted their permission to block Long Lane as allowing them to block off Bermondsey Street at Abbey St/Long Lane. The council never put them straight on this despite requests.

Also twice in the last year the builders of the new blocks at Canada Water dug a hole blocking half of Surrey Quays Road and left it for over a week with temporary traffic lights whilst doing no work on it. The main vehicles affected were buses trying to run on time.

This week I had two young lads visit from Eastbourne - they were appalled at the traffic troubles on London roads (especially when their Sat Nav took them under the Thames twice!). They couldn't wait to go home where it's enjoyable to drive!
Thursday 8 July 2010 1.56pm
Posel - The Shard/BHS is a bad example - both are (relatively) long term projects, and it would have been impossible not to have both closed at the same time at some point.

Section 58's are put in as often as possible because the last thing a council wants is for utilites to come along and rip up their nice looking newly laid road surface. But the road could have been dug up for emergency repairs (gas,water,electric, cable, phone, etc)

permitting is enforced - but you can't just kick workmen off a job, take down the barriers and reopen the road, if the jobs not finished.

the fines are indeed large, and I'm sure you don't want to imagine the state the roads might be in if these restrictions were not in place.
When a council is trying to save money, they realise that 200k on fines for overunning permits is not a good idea.

You can't compare road works with railway works. If a railway line is out of action, there is generally very little alternative route, if at all. a 2 hour job on a road might take out that road section for 2.5 hours, and traffic can be diverted, but on a railway it would take out the entire line, and have knock on effects for other lines, and services. night/weekend works on railways are the only option.

If you have any concerns about any road works, there should be notices up with the name of the contractor, with a phone number to call should there be a problem (this a legal obligation), so you can ring that number and complain. If this doesn't help, then contacting the local council and complaining would be the next step, and then the local councilor, then the mayor of the borough, then BJ, by which time it should be fixed.
Sunday 11 July 2010 6.51pm
JonR wrote:
...If you have any concerns about any road works, there should be notices up with the name of the contractor, with a phone number to call should there be a problem (this a legal obligation), so you can ring that number and complain. If this doesn't help, then contacting the local council and complaining would be the next step, and then the local councillor, then the mayor of the borough, then BJ, by which time it should be fixed.

It might be a legal obligation but often there is no number displayed and Southwark Council are really quite useless when you complain. (For instance, when I complained about one site where the hoardings went to the edge of the pavement making us cross a busy road to get past, they were most reluctant to do anything even though hoardings require a permit which was NOT displayed.) Councillors are often better, but you really have to be quite persistent and dedicated in all this - why should I have to give up an hour of my evening just because people can't do their job properly?

I really am glad to be moving out of London soon!
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