Gridlock in Hammersmith to last for at least another two weeks

Traffic in Hammersmith is a struggle at the best of times. But the recent flooding has caused exasperated motorists to complain of gridlock. The work is taking much longer than was initially indicated.

I have raised these concerns with Hammersmith and Fulham Council and the Network Permit Coordinator sent me the following update this morning:

“King Street/Hammersmith Bridge

As you are aware King Street suffered a major 30 inch water main burst which caused significant damage to the public highway as well as the Thames Water (TWU) assets. The water main has since been repaired, however Thames Water are required to charge the main back to full capacity to ensure there are no further issues. Whilst TWU were completing this operation their contractor was not allowed to work near the site until TWU gave permission to do so. The main has now been fully charged and TWU gave the go ahead to complete repairs to the highway yesterday morning.

The full repair to the carriageway and footway will take some time to complete given the extent of damage caused by the burst. Thames will initially complete the repairs to the immediate area of the burst so as to allow west bound traffic on King Street by Friday evening, before Hammersmith Bridge closes on Saturday. TWU have estimated the road will be fully reopened to traffic by Wednesday 14 February. Once Hammersmith Bridge has been re-opened TWU will then reattend site to complete the reinstatement of the remaining area of the repairs which will be completed under a road closure.

Goldhawk Road

This also suffered a major 30 inch burst, however the damage was even more significant than King Street and will take a little longer to complete due to the damage and voids found under the highway after investigation.

Repairs to the main have been completed and as with King Street the contractors have to follow procedure and wait for TWU to give them permission to complete repairs to the highway. TWU confirmed today the main is being charged. Once this is completed I and my colleagues from Highways will hold a site meeting with TWU to agree the area of reinstatement. The meeting is scheduled for Friday 9 February subject to the water main being charged to full capacity. I anticipate the road is likely to be closed for a further two weeks given the known damage to the highway. However I will monitor TWU daily to ensure they work extended hours and resourced sufficiently in order the road is re opened as soon as is safe and practicable to do so.”

I have also asked Thames Water to comment.

UPDATE

A Thames Water representative adds:

“King Street 

We are installing a Sahara chamber in King Street, which will help us to monitor our network more effectively.  This work is over and above the reinstatement work required but will build further resilience into the network, hence taking a bit longer; we started installing this yesterday.  However, we are sensitive to the fact that Hammersmith Bridge will be closed from this Saturday and therefore we are now planning to complete the essential reinstatement on the westbound carriageway by COP tomorrow so that we can re-open that side of the road ahead of the closure of the bridge.  This will ease traffic in the area and alleviate the disruption that would be caused if both the bridge and road were closed at the same time.  In the meantime we will continue reinstatement works on the eastbound carriageway, which we anticipate will be complete by COP on Wednesday 14th February.  The council has also requested additional repair works which consist of resurfacing of another 350m of the road. I understand that we are currently discussing this part of the reinstatement request with the council to reach agreement.  If this work goes ahead, it will happen after 18th February once the bridge has been re-opened.

Goldhawk Road 

We are installing an additional valve in Goldhawk Road to add more resilience to the network there. The work is progressing and should be complete on Sunday.  Once this is complete, the reinstatement work and trial hole work will commence and we anticipate that this will be complete on Thursday 15th February.”

After the flood – another week before King Street fully reopens and the broken pipe is fixed

Given the extraordinary scenes of flooding on Friday night I think it is impressive that Thames Water, Hammersmith and Fulham Council and the emergency services have reacted quickly to deal with the emergency.

The Public Affairs Manager of Thames Water tells me that 825 households had water supply cut off due to King Street flood. Some were still without supply yesterday afternoon due to airlocks but it is understood that everyone’s water supply is now working.

Frankly I’m relieved that the flooding wasn’t as serious as it looked. Seven businesses in King Street were flooded. For residents the main problem was for those in flats above shops in King Street being without electricity – at one stage about 20 of them. One family stayed in a hotel last night.

It will probably be nearly a week before King Street fully reopens. One problem is that the pipe is in the middle of the road – so it looks as though it will not be possible for traffic to squeeze past in one lane while the work is being done. It will be a complex repair. Parts are being specially made – although they should be ready by tomorrow. There will be a new section built.  Then there will be the backfilling. The concrete and tarmac will need time to set. Realistically it sounds like Friday is the best bet for traffic to be back to normal…

TfL urged to be admit the full extent of traffic delays that CS9 would cause

A local resident John Griffiths says Transport for London has sort to play down the extent that the Cycle Superhighway scheme though Hammersmith would cause in increased journey times. Griffiths has raised concerns after studying TfL’s own modelling – on both the CS9 scheme and their Hammersmith Gyratory proposals.

TfL says:

“On the Gyratory proposals The traffic modelling analysis looks at journey times at the busiest hour in the morning and evening peaks. The most notable increases in journey times will be for traffic approaching Hammersmith gyratory from Fulham Palace Road in the evening peak, which may experience an average journey time increase of up to a minute and a half.”

However Griffiths adds:

“Now this is the extra time taken only to traverse the gyratory. For traffic in a queue it will be much longer.

Looking at the information given in the summary results  

Fulham Palace Rd to Shepherds Bush Rd / PM traffic

Current journey time                       2-3 min

Future modelled journey time        4-5 min

Future – Current                              60-90 sec

Let us take the average current journey time as            2.5 minutes

And the average future journey time as                          4.5 minutes.

The ratio of the two is 4.5/2.5 = 1.8, that is an 80% increase in the journey time across the gyratory.

However that is not the total extra journey time if there is a queue to enter the gyratory. Traffic is taking 80% longer to get through the gyratory. So a vehicle in a queue of any given length will now take 80% longer to reach the head of the queue.

So a vehicle in a queue that might now take say 20 minutes to reach the gyratory will in future take about 35 minutes.

A further effect is that as vehicles are being removed more slowly from the head of the queue, the queue in future will be longer if vehicles are arriving at the same rate at the back of the queue.

From the same summary results chart for PM traffic

Hammersmith Rd to King Street

Current journey time                       2-3 min

Future modelled journey time        3-4 min          

Future – Current                              31 – 60 sec

Let us take the average current journey time as 2.5 min

And the average future journey time as 3.5 minutes.

The ratio of the two is 3.5/2.5 = 1.4, that is an 40% increase in the journey time across the gyratory.

Again for any queue in Hammersmith Rd it will take 40% longer to reach the head of the queue.”

So far as the CS9 proposals are concerned Griffiths makes the following comments with regard to TfL’s modelling results:

“This gives 3 journey times, and the impact of CS9

2015 journey time,

2021 journey time*

2021 journey time with CS9 scheme

Impact of CS9 scheme on 2021 scenario

*Including future growth, committed schemes and consulted scheme at Hammersmith ie including the gyratory scheme

The figures it gives for the effect of CS9 is the difference between the last two times. That is the difference CS9 makes assuming the gyratory scheme is already in place. What one really needs to know is the difference between the first and the third set of times, the effect of the gyratory plus CS9

Hammersmith Bridge Rd to Shepherds Bush Rd          PM traffic

2015 journey time                                                    2-3 min

2021 journey time* [inc gyratory ]                          4-5 min

2021 journey time  [inc gyratory + CS9]              5-6 min

Impact of CS9 scheme on 2021 scenario           1-2 min

But the impact of [gyratory + CS9] on 2015  3-4 min say

Let us take the average 2015 journey time as      2.5 min

And the average 2021 journey time [+gyratory + CS9]    5.5 min.

The ratio of the two is 5.5/2.5 = 2.2, that is an 120% increase in the journey time across the gyratory.

This will have a massive effect on the queues on Castelnau and the Great West Rd.

A surprising observation from this CS9 PM Traffic chart is the time it takes to get from Holland Rd to Goldhawk Rd. This is 12 – 14 minutes in 2015, in 2021 with gyratory, and in 2021 with gyratory and CS9. I am surprised that it is so low, and that the 40% longer queuing time that we saw above is not reflected in the future.”

The full version is here.

London Assembly member Tony Devenish is asking Transport for London for a response.

Councils playing for time over flawed “cycle superhighway” plan

Controversy continues over the flawed plans from Transport for London for a “Cycle Superhighway” from Olympia to Brentford. The Hammersmith Society has come out against the scheme. There are a range of objectors – motorists concerned about traffic congestion being made worse, bus users (especially the elderly and disabled) who would find getting to a bus stop hazardous. Local churches and shops worry that it would be harder for people to visit them. There are also objections from slower, gentler cyclists who find the idea of “cycle superhighway” rather intimidating.  The £70 million could be better spent in ways that provide genuine cycling improvements without harming others.

So there is no surprise that opposition is considerable. In order to proceed Transport for London would need permission from both Hounslow and Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Both councils seem to be dithering.

Hounslow Council says  “reservations have been raised about some elements by significant numbers of people, particularly around proposals for Chiswick High Road.” It adds:

“TfL is currently analysing responses to the consultation and considering in detail the issues raised.  Although we await the final report, it is evident that some elements of the scheme will need to be revised for it to be acceptable to our residents and businesses.

These include, for example:

  • A review of options to reduce the impact on the southern footway of Chiswick High Road for pedestrians, particularly outside the Our Lady of Grace church;
  • Access arrangements for some side roads off Chiswick High Road;
  • Loading provisions for businesses along the high road;
  • Consideration to wider parking and traffic management measures if the scheme is implemented to deal with likely knock on impacts from the scheme.

In order to ensure that TfL and the council have time to analyse and interpret the huge response received, and give consideration to all the issues raised, a decision on the revised scheme will not be taken until the summer, when the newly elected administration will review the revised scheme and determine the council’s position on it.”

In a report Hammersmith and Fulham Council says in a report to a meeting taking place on January 29th:

“TfL is currently analysing responses to their consultation and considering in detail the issues raised. 1.5. The council submitted to TfL initial technical comments on the proposed route and continues to collect the views of its residents and business owners along the route.

Hammersmith and Fulham council is the Highways Authority for the roads used for this route in the borough, and a decision to allow any scheme to be implemented lies with the Cabinet.

The Cabinet will make a final decision over whether or not the proposed scheme is to be allowed after considering all the responses from its Residents and Businesses and any revised changes proposed by TfL.”

It adds:

“The council will ensure that the views and opinions of its residents and businesses are carefully considered in the development of any proposed scheme, to enable the administration to review any revised scheme and determine the council’s position on it.”

Come off it.

The TfL consultation closed on October 31st. How long does “analysing responses” take? Surely they would managed to come up with an initial tally of how support and opposition there is by now.

I understood the Hammersmith and Fulham Council report to the meeting on January 29th was going to tells us the level of support for the scheme both from responses to TfL and later responses to the Council.

There are five rules of Dodgeball – “Dodge, duck, dip, dive and…dodge.”

Hounslow and Hammersmith and Fulham councils don’t wish to defy the Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Nor do they want to defy their residents – at least not before May 3rd. Thus they are keen to avoid taking an unpopular decision – until after the local elections.

The difficulty for these councils in not that the consultation responses are inconclusive. It is that the message is loud and clear – that the CS9 scheme is not wanted. So a few tinkering changes are proposed and until May their great rallying cry will be that they and TfL are currently analysing responses”.

What should the response be? To keep up the opposition. Urge all those who haven’t yet done so to sign the petition.

Labour have effectively abandoned the Flyunder scheme

Last month I wrote about how the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan delayed answering a question about his stance on the Flyunder proposal. This scheme would mean a tunnel would replace the Hammersmith Flyover and a stretch of the A4 extending to the Hogarth Roundabout. It would mean huge benefits in terms of transport, the environment, new housing and making the borough a more beautiful place to live in.

The Mayor has finally provided the following response:

“TfL completed a feasibility study for the Hammersmith flyunder in 2015. The scheme looks to address issues of congestion, mitigate against noise and air pollution from traffic, provide space for new housing and make the area more appealing for walking and cycling. The study indicated that it would be technically feasible to build a tunnel to replace the flyover and provide opportunities to regenerate Hammersmith town centre.

“The likely construction and operational costs of the scheme were found to be significant and could not be covered through local sources and from proceeds from associated development in the town centre. As this is primarily a regeneration scheme, it is being considered further by the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham who are developing a Supplementary Planning Document for the town centre.

“While I am supportive in principle of schemes such as the proposed Hammersmith flyunder, any such schemes need to being fully funded by development in the local area. TfL will work closely with the Council, but the scheme has to demonstrate that it can deliver the benefits and meet the key challenges before I can fully support the it.”

Given the vast sums that TfL is prepared to spend on assorted unwanted schemes the refusal to offer any money at all is unreasonable. Not to mention splashing out £100 million to bodge up the Hammersmith Flyover. This is a TfL road and for the current Mayor to show a complete lack of interest is a dismal contrast to his predecessor Boris Johnson.

Val Shawcross, Deputy Mayor for Transport, says the Flyunder idea is “bonkers”.

In any case just shrugging and saying it is up to the Council to come up with a proposal is pretty hopeless unless we get a change of administration in May. Labour promised to back the plan but have failed to make any progress with it at all.

H&F Council’s annual stealth taxes on motorists hit £23 million

A big theme from the Labour Party at the last council elections was to cut “all taxes”. They pledged to cut the Council Tax at a faster rate than the Conservatives had achieved. But they also promised to cut “stealth taxes” – most significantly on motorists.

Back in 2013 the then Labour opposition leader Cllr Stephen Cowan declared:

“These fines and fees are the worst type of stealth taxes demonstrating once again that Hammersmith and Fulham is a high tax borough.”

That was in response to the figures from 2012/13 which showed the Council made a “surplus” or profit on its parking operation of £19.395 million. As Council leader Cllr Cowan has made a difference. The latest figures –from the RAC Foundation – show the amount is now £23.077 million.

So local drivers having been promised the stealth taxes would be cut are instead fleeced by an extra £3.7 million a year. Any of them who believed Labour’s promises are entitled to feel angry,

To really help cyclists let’s fix the potholes – not waste money on the “superhighway”

The Times has reported that the refusal of councils to bother filling shallow potholes is a threat to the safety of cyclists.

According to an FOI response earlier this year from Hammersmith and Fulham Council:

“The Council works to an investigatory level of 40mm in the carriageway in line with the Well Maintained Highways – a code of good practice and the Council’s Highway Maintenance Management Plan.”

Yet the report in The Times says:

“Lawyers acting on behalf of accident victims said that many councils only fixed potholes that were deeper than 4cm, despite the risk of accidents in shallower cracks.”

More than 100 cyclists died on Britain’s roads last year. A further 3,397 were seriously injured, a 5 per cent increase from the previous year. Department for Transport figures show that 467 cyclists over five years were involved in accidents in which “poor or defective” roads were a factor.

While Transport for London proposes spending £70 million of our money on a grand scheme for a Cycle Superhighway – which many ordinary cyclists don’t want – the basic priorities are ignored.

The general point seems to be that the depth of an inch or two might not matter too much for motorists but can be a serious risk for cyclists.

I have raised my concerns with the Council about this. The General Maintenance Team Manager has responded:

“The Council currently operates under the existing ‘Well Maintained Highways – a code of good practice’ which was drafted by the Roads Liaison Group and was recommended by the Department for Transport. This document was replaced in October 2016 with a new document – ‘Code of Practice for Well-Managed Highways Infrastructure’. Each Council has until October 2018 to make the necessary changes to existing polices to align with the new code.

“The Council is currently undergoing a series of workshops to review existing topics such as intervention / investigatory levels as the new Code of Practice document encourages Councils to assess risk in a wider context than the previous document did. Once these workshops have been completed, a new Highway Maintenance Management Plan will be drafted in line with the new CoP – this document will cover topics such as intervention levels, frequency of inspections and repair timescales.

“In the meantime, should you have any particular areas of concern where you feel that a defect poses a risk to a cyclist, please let me know and I will arrange for a Highway Inspector to carry out a thorough investigation.”

The website Fill That Hole says cyclists have reported 363 hazards to the Council via that website but that only 45 have been fixed. That performance puts the Council well down the league table.

I have asked for an explanation.