TFL gives a masterclass in how not to repair a motorway bridge

CIMG2373Transport for London has just put up ugly temporary fences on both sides of the Old Dover Road and Charlton Road bridges over the A102 – without consulting or notifying local residents or councillors, and with no regard to the impact on local views.

And now TFL can’t even say how long the fences will be up, what work is to be carried out behind them, and how high the bridges’ railings will be once work is complete.

According to one nearby resident, the new fences “look ugly, look scary, ruin the view and make you feel that you are in prison”. Another resident describes them simply as “hideous”. “Monstrosities,” says another.

Work to strengthen the parapet and railings on the Charlton Road bridgeCIMG2382 was judged necessary following an accident last October in which a car struck the north side of the bridge and part of the railing fell onto the A102 below, as reported on this blog late last year (thankfully no one was hurt). Following safety inspections work was also judged necessary at the Old Dover Road bridge, a few hundred yards to the south, which is of a similar design.

Everyone would agree that the Charlton Road bridge needs repair and that safety should always take priority. But Greenwich Council was not consulted or informed before TFL put up these “heavy duty temporary containment barriers” on both bridges last week. Since their arrival the council’s highways department has asked to see TFL’s programme for the repair work, and be told a completion date, but TFL says they cannot provide either.

As usual Boris Johnson’s TFL are going about this the wrong way – consulting no-one, and putting up ugly temporary fences while they take months on end to decide what to do. TFL is not a good neighbour to those living by the A2/A102 motorway: while TFL refused to put up higher fences to protect residents of Siebert Road and Westcombe Hill from noise and pollution, it presses ahead with plans for huge advertising screens on the Sun-in-the-Sands roundabout despite their refusal by Greenwich Council.

These two bridges offer views of the Greenwich Peninsula and beyond and their character would be completely changed, and these views would become a thing of the past, if TFL put in railings or walls up to 2m high, which thanks to a loophole in planning law they could do without applying for planning permission.

Labour is urging TFL to consult residents near the bridges, and local groups like the Westcombe Society, Charlton Society and Rectory Field Residents’ Group, about what they are proposing. It should not take six months and counting to work out how to make some railings safer, especially if horrible high fences are put up in the meantime. Why can’t TFL actually talk to the council and local people about what it wants to do, and why?

MAY 2nd UPDATE: TFL have told Labour GLA Member Len Duvall that “A recent assessment of the parapets of these two bridges identified some weakness. In the interest of public safety we have therefore installed temporary concrete barriers, and are now working on a scheme to make the bridges permanently safe.” Len is asking how long these temporary barriers will be up for, whether TfL could  consider aesthetic improvements to the barriers, and what plans TFL have to involve and consult the Council and local community groups. Please let us know if you think Labour should be asking anything else by commenting below.

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5 Responses to TFL gives a masterclass in how not to repair a motorway bridge

  1. Neil Clasper says:

    Thanks for following this up. The new barriers really are an eyesore.

  2. Pingback: After 16 years as a Labour councillor in Blackheath and Westcombe Park, Alex Grant says thank you and goodbye | Blackheath Westcombe Labour

  3. Joe says:

    Thanks for raising this. I hope the new, permanent barriers, when they eventually go up, will allow people to see over them – the views are the one saving grace around an otherwise ugly motorway site. Barriers can surely still prevent accidents if they are under 1.5 metres high whilst allowing views and photos and people won’t feel hemmed in – hopefully a sensible and not too extreme compromise can be reached soon.

  4. Pingback: Charlton Road’s bridge barriers are coming down – but get set for disruption | The Charlton Champion

  5. Pingback: A Garden Bridge? No thank you, Joanna Lumley: London is ‘Bosky’ enough already | Alex Grant

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