Calls Made to Suspend Traffic Cameras During Wandsworth Bridge Closure

Traffic chaos feared in Fulham during ten weeks bridge is shut

Opponents believe traffic is being displaced to New Kings Road
Concerns that New Kings Road will be blocked by displaced traffic. Picture: Twitter/@cameratraffic

May 22, 2023

Concerns are being raised about the impact on Fulham of the 10-week closure planned for Wandsworth Bridge over the summer.

The 83-year-old structure is to close to vehicles from 24 July so essential repairs can be carried out after checks on the bridge revealed some of its weight-bearing parts need to be replaced.

Traffic has already started to build up in parts of Fulham due to the initial phase of the project which began on Monday (15 May) which has seen the closure of the northbound cycle lane and southbound bus lane. Buses, vehicles and bikes will still be able to cross the bridge in both directions until the main phase of works begins.

It is expected that the bridge closure will see a sharp reduction in traffic on Wandsworth Bridge Road but with most vehicles rerouting to New Kings Road as they are prevented from turning off by the ANPR enforced restrictions. Borough residents have exemptions from the restrictions but people crossing from the south of the river will now be obliged to stay on the New Kings Road after crossing Putney Bridge.

Fears have been expressed that New Kings Road will be unable to cope with the extra volume of traffic and become logjammed. Local resident groups claim it has already been more congested since the implementation of the South Fulham Clean Air Neighbourhood scheme.

It is understood that Hammersmith & Fulham Council is planning to suspend the Clean Air Neighbourhood camera in Imperial Road (southbound) during the closure. Drivers crossing over Putney Bridge will be allowed to use the New Kings Road and then turn right down Bagley’s Lane, along Imperial Road and then Townmead Road to get to the southern section of Wandsworth Bridge Road. To return they will have to enter New Kings Road from Wandsworth Bridge Road.

Despite this there have been calls from both north and south of the river to suspend all of the restrictions while the bridge closure is in place.

The Traffic Camera Consulting Group, which has campaigned against the council’s traffic restrictions, is calling for their complete suspension .

It says, “Other traffic will be diverted over Putney Bridge and South Fulham effectively becomes an island. Closure of the bridge will have a catastrophic impact on the transport and economic infrastructure of the whole of Fulham for a not inconsiderable period. There is no access to Wandsworth Bridge Road or South Fulham from Putney Bridge for out of borough traffic without going through a camera. So during the period of bridge closure it is essential that cameras are turned off.”

Lee Roberts, Conservative Parliamentary Spokesperson for Putney said, “Given the huge level of disruption this will cause Hammersmith & Fulham Council needs to do more. They really could be suspending the all the LTN restrictions to help minimize the impact the closure of this vital crossing will cause.”

One resident of Putney contacted us to say, “Originally when I heard of the closure, I thought it wouldn’t affect me as I cross via Putney Bridge not Wandsworth Bridge on the bus. However, much of the displaced traffic, as well as needing to cross Putney Bridge, will also be forced to use the New Kings Road which has been slower moving since the implementation of the traffic measures in South Fulham. Anyone needing to get to a point east of Wandsworth Bridge Road potentially faces a much longer journey on a road that can be static at rush hour. Perhaps, it won’t be as bad as I fear but I’m braced for significantly increased journey times. While I'm completely on board with the principle of people being protect from drivers rat-running past their homes, nobody benefits if bus services become unusable.“

As yet TfL has not published details of planned bus diversions, but it is thought likely that routes such as the 28, 295 and C3 will run over Putney Bridge for the duration of the closure. Concerns have been raised that this will have a knock-on effect on routes in the area which already use Putney Bridge which is likely to become much more congested, for instance the 424.

Local MP Greg Hands is currently conducting a traffic camera survey to determine what local views are of the South Fulham traffic restrictions.

Wandsworth council leader Simon Hogg said, “These works are essential to protect the bridge, ensure it remains safe to use and keep it open in the long-term. Our primary objective is to get this necessary job done as efficiently and quickly as possible so there is the least amount of disruption possible to residents.”

He added: “Unfortunately a repair job on this scale to an important river crossing means some degree of disruption is unavoidable, and we are sorry for the inconvenience it will cause, but we have worked hard to keep this to the absolute minimum. We have also ensured the bridge will remain open to pedestrians and people who ride bicycles throughout the works.

“We are giving people as much advance warning as we can ahead of July’s closure so that they have plenty of time to plan alternative routes or look at using other forms of transport to get across the river.”

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