Reducing bridge strikes on Thurlow Park Road – work starts next week

The railway bridge over the South Circular is hit by HGVs more than any other railway bridge in the UK. Every time a lorry drives into the bridge, trains to and from central London are delayed and traffic is redirected down residential streets. In the meantime, large vehicles are indiscriminately redirected down Lancaster Avenue.  It is disruptive and dangerous, and we want to do something to solve the problem.

We have been working with TfL to address the issue. Officers met with residents a couple of months ago, and recently our new London Assembly Member, Flo Eshalomi, visited the ward to discuss this issue ahead of her election.
In the short term, we have pushed for better signage – which takes into account the actual height of vehicles to ensure oversized vehicles are targeted. In the long term, we want the road to be lowered so that no vehicle is at risk of hitting the bridge, and so that no lorries are diverted down Lancaster Avenue.

We are pleased that action is being taken this week. London Highways Alliance Contract (LoHAC) workers, on behalf of Transport for London (TfL), are planning to modernise the Overheight Vehicle Detection Systems on the A205 Thurlow Park Road, on both approaches to the Network Rail Bridge near Tulse Hill Gyratory. The contractors will be installing new Overheight Vehicle Detection Systems and associated loop sensors, ducting and electrical connections, in order to give overheight vehicles more advanced warning of the low bridge and to divert them via alternative routes.

Works are planned to start on Tuesday 24 May 2016 and will be phased over approximately 10 weeks, depending on weather conditions. Footway works will take place from Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 18:00, and on Saturdays between 08:00 and 14:00. Carriageway works will take place from Mondays to Fridays between 20:00 and 05:00, nights only, with noisy works completed before 23:00.

Ahead of 2016 GLA Assembly election we arranged for the Norwood Forum Chair, Noshir Patel, and Labour GLA candidate for Lambeth & Southwark, Flo Eshalomi, to conduct a walking tour of Lancaster Avenue and Thurlow Park Road with the bridge strike issue and subsequent road diversion the main topic of discussion.

As many of you may know, the bridge on Thurlow Park Road is the most hit in the country and the impact has been of growing significance to residents and business alike. The economic cost of delayed train and car journeys, the negative effect on air pollution, the impact on road safety, the actual damage to the bridge, and the cost to train operating companies.

As a reminder, we met with TfL and LARA residents last December 2015 and discussed a rage of short and long term strategies to help residents better cope with the ongoing issue. In the short term we had hoped to see better signage being installed. These would be “smart”, triggered only by oversized vehicles which should mean they are more effective. Otherwise, we had also hoped to see CCTV being installed to monitor and measure impact.

In the longer term we understood that TfL would be developing a business case for lowering the road as a way to prevent bridge strikes and to remove the need to divert any traffic down Lancaster Avenue. This will take some time because it is a complicated engineering challenge thanks to bridge foundations and the sewer. It will also have a huge impact on the road, as it would have to be closed for the works to be completed.

Florence was diligent in her questions and understood the need for something to be done as quickly as possible. She was keen to help and said that she would raise the matter, if elected, during Mayor’s question time.