Just in from Greenwich Council’s press office…
Contractors working on a major renewal programme to Greenwich’s two foot tunnels have confirmed that the Woolwich foot tunnel is likely to remain closed until March 2011.
This change to the programme follows the discovery, during the works programme, of corrosion on some of the stairs. Although posing no safety issues for the public, the discovery of the corroded parts has meant that scaffolding is required in the lift shafts while upgrading work is carried out to the stairs. As a result, it is no longer possible to keep the lifts open while the work to the staircases takes place
The work to renew the two foot tunnels was planned in consultation with cyclists, traders and tunnel users. Originally, a schedule of work was put in place to enable pedestrians and cyclists to use the lifts while the stairs are being renewed, and vice versa. Alternative means of crossing the river were put in place for all but a few hours each week.
Regrettably, the additional unplanned repairs at Woolwich make it no longer possible for the lifts to be used by the public while the stairs at this tunnel are being renewed.
There are alternative crossing arrangements in place for both pedestrians and cyclists wishing to cross the river; these include the Woolwich free ferry during its operating hours. Those with folding bikes also have the option of taking them on the DLR.
The renewal programme is proceeding as planned at the Greenwich foot tunnel. The Greenwich tunnel is open Mondays to Fridays from 6am to 9pm, and at weekends from 6am Saturday through till 9pm on Monday.
Cllr Denise Hyland, Greenwich Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills, said, “We have explored every possible means of carrying out the work safely while keeping the Woolwich tunnel open – as was originally planned, and as we are successfully doing at Greenwich. However the confined spaces involved mean that it has not been possible to do this in the Woolwich tunnel.
“We have made representations to DLR over waiving their restrictions on non-folding cycles between Cutty Sark/Island Gardens and between Woolwich Arsenal/ King George V but they were not able to agree this.
“The Council apologises for any inconvenience caused by these extra closures to the Woolwich tunnel. Our contractors are pressing ahead with the work as speedily as possible, and if we can reopen the tunnel sooner than March, we will do so.”
I’ve said before that if this was the Greenwich foot tunnel, people would go nuts – but nobody cares about dowdy old Woolwich so this will probably go unnoticed, like it has done for the past six weeks. That said, word reaches me that the Greenwich foot tunnel was closed during yesterday’s evening rush hour – leaving cyclists with hefty diversions to get home.