Tuesday 3 January 2012

TfL Update On Hammersmith Flyover Closure

Transport for London have advised that Hammersmith flyover “will remain closed this week.” But that they “hope to open it for some traffic next week”.

The flyover was dramatically closed on December 23rd. Hammersmith has been locked with high levels of traffic congestion almost every day since.

Responding to a series of queries I raised with them, TfL have written to say they have “been concerned about the structure for some months and we have been conducting engineering assessments over this time. Unhappily, the assessments have increased the level of concern. On the Thursday before the Christmas weekend an inspection raised the level of concern to the point where we had to close the flyover. 

The problem relates to corrosion of the steel tendons which help to hold the structure together. The assessments and monitoring include ultrasound and physical examination following exposure of the tendons from the surrounding concrete.

Your constituents would have seen very little activity on the flyover. That's because the majority of the work is taking place inside the structure within the underside of the flyover. Teams of engineers trained specially for confined spaces have been working day and night on the problem.

We are taking a range of measures to ease the inevitable congestions, including phasing traffic signals, limiting road works, providing traffic advice - but our best advice remains telling drivers to avoid the area. We will be monitoring traffic levels and pinch points.”

TfL have promised to send me “a technical briefing this week” and will let me know if they’re able to achieve their aim of re-opening the flyover to some limited traffic next week – once they have finished all their evaluations.

It's not clear why the corrosion of the steal tendons, critical to the structure of the flyover, have been allowed to deteriorate to such a apparently dangerous extent. It is not yet evident if TfL had been engaged in sufficiently regular maintenance of the structures and whether that could have avoided this sudden closure? I expect that information to be in the technical briefing.

What is clear is that there are chronic levels of traffic congestion, pollution and increased rat-running traffic in residential roads around Hammersmith. It's a mess. I hope that TfL can demonstrate they they have done everything possible to avoid this and are putting all necessary resources and effort in getting it back in use. I'll let you know when I get their briefing.


Anonymous said...

The range of measures taken to ease the inevitable congestions caused for the closure of the flyover are almost invisible to and an insult to suffering drivers. It is hardly credible that driver's lives are at seriously at risk. It is unacceptable that they have not even re-opened the flyover to some limited traffic. It just shows utter contempt for the disruption caused to thousands of drivers.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with the comments above, and suspect that no measures have been taken to ease congestion either in Hammersmith or Chiswick, which are both suffering horrendously long and slow moving jams. I clocked my speed through the area this morning at under a mile an hour.The lack of any meaningful information from TfL is woeful, and their advice to 'avoid the area' absolutely useless for someone like me, who works in Kensington and lives nowhere near the A40, or indeed a tube station!

Anonymous said...

Whilst I'm fine for TFL to put safety first I am not fine with the fact that they had no contingency plan in place if they knew this was an issue that had to be dealt with in the coming years. Anyone remotely familiar with the area or travels to heathrow from central London knows of the importance of the flyover. It is a lifeline to London and to not have adequate contingencies is disappointing. Additionally, I am truly disgusted with the repeated statements by the Mayor and TFL of assuring the flyover will be open for the Olympics. I honestly feel this is purely a political move to save face with the world watching. But what about the tax payers, like me, who live in the area and are so massively effected. Their comments begs the question that if it weren't for the Olympics would the TFL timeline be different (substantially longer). On a final note, can everyone be honest and just say there is no way possible to ease congestion if you live around the flyover. There are literally no other roads that wouldn't substantially take you out of the way and cost you a lot more in the use of fuel. Can everyone just be honest and admit this is a catastrophic failure in road works planning that is crippling London?