Tunnel Talk

Luke met (over the weekend, I’m assuming) some people seeking support against the closure of the foot tunnel and wondered if I’d come across them (which I hadn’t.)

We talked about refurbishment work looming on the horizon back in January but although Andrew Gilligan’s June article mentions a start date of September 2009, work doesn’t appear to have started yet.

Luke says that the protesters claim the tunnel (along with the one at Woolwich) will be closed for 6 months while it’s refurbished. Andrew Gilligan thinks it will be more like 10 months to a year.

“The campaigners were getting signatures on letters to Greenwich Council asking for the work to be done at night or for shorter bursts rather than completely shut off a major route across the Thames,” Luke says.

I think the issue here is one of this being a public highway (which is why the tunnels are not closed at night.) Surely there HAS to be some kind of provision for an alternative crossing – especially for people like cyclists who aren’t allowed on the DLR? I mean – when they close a road, they generally provide alternative routes that aren’t something like a ten-mile round trip.

I’ve tried cycling round – it’s bloomin’ MILES to go via Tower Bridge – the nearest alternative, and much of the cycle route is hard to decipher. I didn’t even finish, being an exercise-o-phobe. Closing both tunnels at once is especially bad (if true) – but even cycling down to Woolwich is an extra – what – hour-and-a-half for me, 30 mins for everyone else.

However, I’m not sure I agree with the work being carried on at night or in short burst. It would just provide an excuse for the only bit of Cutty Sark ‘Gardens’ that isn’t a building site to be an, um, building site – for no fixed period of time – and for the lifts to never work properly (‘oh, we’re getting to that bit later…’)

But if we want a nice clean, fresh tunnel with lifts that work, improvements need to be done.

I would be in favour of lobbying for a regular ferry across the river to Island Gardens – paying for such a facility would be a wonderful concentration for the mind on getting that work finished…

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