Acton Lane closure could lead to year of chaos

Bridge near Chiswick Park tube needs to be repaired

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The prospect of a whole year of traffic chaos has been raised with due to long term closures planned for Acton Lane. Repairs need to be carried out on safety grounds to the bridge over Acton Lane by Chiswick Park Station. The road closures are proposed to begin on 17th January and are currently scheduled to last into 2006. They would take place every day except Sunday starting at 2pm and finishing at 6am the next morning.

Acton Lane will need to be closed to traffic between Bollo Lane and Fairlawn Avenue.

Water penetration over many years has caused severe damage to the metal structure and the bridge is currently being inspected every three months to check for further deterioration. There is a risk over the longer term that the bridge might fail which would make any resulting disruption even more serious. It is understood that there is no immediate risk of the bridge collapsing and it is still perfectly safe for tube users. The closures are being proposed by Ealing Council as a result of the advice from London Underground.

The work will be done by Metronet whose spokesperson told us, "We are still in consultation with the London Borough of Ealing & the London Borough of Hounslow regarding the planned renewal work. It is in all the parties' interest to find the best possible solution - a balance is required in upgrading this essential asset with the noise created by the works and any traffic disruption ensuring all safety aspects are adhered to."

Originally it was proposed that the works be done at night which would have required over a year and a half but due to likelihood of a high level of noise as a result of the works it is now envisaged that the works will also be done during the afternoon with daily road closures between 2pm and 6am the next morning. They are scheduled to last until April 2006.

The diversion route for traffic to be Acton Lane, Chiswick High Road, Turnham Green Terrace and South Parade in both directions.

Local ward Councillor Gary Malcolm said, "It sounds as if the job is needed and it is good to see the two councils speaking to each other about matters like this when it will cause huge disruption. Communication is the key: A very large number of residents need to be informed."

When informed about the plans the Chiswick Area Committee which met on Wednesday 8th December issued a statement deploring the proposal in its present form and asked council officers to explore other options. They also expressed concern about safety to rail passengers travelling under the bridge and urged London Underground to consider the introduction of a Piccadilly line service at Turnham Green to mitigate the likely massive disruption. Other bridges in Bollo Lane and Turnham Green had been built around the same time and there was anxiety that the same problems may occur there.

Although the Area Committee was not convinced that the current proposals were the best method of dealing with the situation, several other approaches had already been considered and ruled out. One-way working or traffic lights is not a practical alternative as the bridge spans the road at an angle so there would be insufficient space for even a single flow of traffic. To construct a gantry attached to the bridge would lower the height of the bridge significantly and has been rejected by the Contractor's Health and Safety Officer as it is not possible to guarantee protection of their workforce by an overheight vehicle ignoring warning signs.

Although it may be difficult to predict the amount of traffic disruption that results fears are already being expressed that it will surpass the chaos that followed the closure of Fishers Lane. With widespread concern that congestion and air pollution are already on the increase in Chiswick it looks likely that there will be a significant worsening of these problems in 2005.

December 16, 2004