Regular readers will know that Andrew Gilligan recently raised the prospect of the Greenwich Foot Tunnel being closed whilst the Council carries out refurbishments using the £11.5million it was awarded by central government.
Tom Crispin from the Young Lewisham and Greenwich Cyclists has been in discussions with Greenwich Council and just posted this useful reply in that earlier discussion which I think is worth flagging up:
Unless local groups oppose their closure, the tunnels at Greenwich and Woolwich are going to close for refurbishment. This is likely to happen for up to 18 months between September 2009 and March 2011.
Greenwich Council is not planning any replacement service for those wishing to push bikes under the Thames (pedestrians will be able to use the DLR); they claim the cost of a ferry service will be £11,000 per week.
Some of the work to the tunnels is essential, e.g. fixing a leak in one of the stairwell/lift shafts at Woolwich. Other work is welcome, rewiring the lighting, new CCTV, emergency lighting, replacement lift mechanisms for the current mechanisms for which spare parts are, according to GC, not possible to source. Some of the work is unwelcome, renewing the footway at Woolwich, re-facing the tunnels (instead of cleaning them).
As public highways, Greenwich Council will have to consult on the tunnels’ closure. If there is sufficient opposition to the closure a public enquiry will have to be held. This will delay the works. If the works are not complete by March 2011 Greenwich Council will lose the £11.5m for the refurbishment. Unless there is a local replacement ferry service at Greenwich, or the closure at Greenwich is restricted to overnight (00.00 - 05.30 perhaps), local cycling groups are likely to oppose the closure. Therefore, Greenwich Council would be well advised to lay on a replacement ferry service at Greenwich. With the Woolwich Ferry offering an alternative, the closure at Woolwich is not as serious, though it would greatly inconvenience cyclists at times when the Woolwich Ferry is not operating, and pedestrians when the DLR is not operating.
Tom tells me that the closure could potentially be a lot less than the figure of 18 months but it is question of whether or not the tunnel interior is "refaced" that would determine if it is a lengthy closure or not.