Hammersmith Bridge effects – further mitigation promised for Chiswick

Hounslow’s Conservative councillors met Heidi Alexander, London’s deputy mayor for transport, and Andy Wiseall, TfL’s principal traffic control engineer, to discuss improvements needed in Chiswick during the closure of Hammersmith Bridge

Hounslow’s Conservative councillors Patrick Barr, Joanna Biddolph, Sam Hearn and John Todd this morning met London’s deputy mayor for transport Heidi Alexander and TfL principal traffic control engineer Andy Wiseall to discuss the extreme traffic congestion on Chiswick’s roads since Hammersmith Bridge closed.  They received a pledge from TfL and the deputy mayor that improvements would be made.

The meeting was arranged by Tony Arbour, GLA member for Hounslow, Kingston upon Thames and Richmond upon Thames and deputy chairman of the GLA.  Ruth Cadbury MP was also present.

Meeting first on the corner of Barrowgate Road and Sutton Court Road, Clr Joanna Biddolph (Turnham Green ward and leader of the Conservative Group) described the extreme problems in this spot, with traffic queuing to join or cross the A4 backed up to Heathfield Terrace at Chiswick Town Hall with the inevitable knock-on effect of drivers seeking short cuts.  This has turned Barrowgate Road, Wavendon Avenue and Dukes Avenue into traffic-jammed rat runs as drivers try to avoid stationary traffic along the entire length of Chiswick High Road.  Cllr Joanna Biddolph expressed great concern that this change in driving behaviour would become a habit, affecting these quiet residential roads forever.

Cllr John Todd highlighted the frustration of drivers on the A4 who, to escape the traffic queue, are now making illegal U-turns at the junction with Sutton Court Road.  TfL acknowledged that little could be done about this but would, nevertheless, look at possible enforcement measures.

The group then moved to Heathfield Terrace to describe the effect on Wellesley Road and, consequently, on Brooks Road and Stile Hall Gardens then onto Chiswick High Road leading to Kew Bridge.  They talked also of the effect on Chiswick Lane down to the Hogarth roundabout.

Andy Wiseall explained the actions already taken to try to keep traffic moving in Chiswick including that mitigation is needed on several major routes and at complicated intersections such as Chalkers Corner.  He explained that all traffic lights in Chiswick are under SCOOT control – Split Cycle and Offset Optimisation Technique – which allows every traffic light to be adjusted to local conditions.  Vehicle detectors in the road (pictured) feed back data (such as stationery traffic) which is constantly monitored so that traffic lights can be changed to improve traffic flow.  He said he would look at whether changes are responsive enough and if adjustments need to be made.

Explaining that TfL had made adjustments in Chiswick in the last two weeks but that more could be done, Andy Wiseall said, “We’re not leaving it.  We are aware that traffic will reduce during school holidays and that we will need to look again at this when schools are back”.  He confirmed that he would assess the current situation again.

Heidi Alexander confirmed that TfL was committed to re-opening the bridge to vehicles and that it would not remain open only to pedestrians and cyclists.  She explained that a report on what is needed to repair the bridge is due in August and that it is likely to take three years to repair the bridge.  She emphasised that any reports saying the bridge might close were not true.

Commenting on the meeting, Cllr John Todd said, “This was aconstructive exercise where councillors’ local knowledge materially contributed to the varied options available.  TfL traffic engineers and Hounslow’s traffic department should continue to pursue solutions to minimise the impact in Chiswick of the closure of Hammersmith Bridge.”

Cllr Patrick Barr said, ““The closure of Hammersmith Bridge is having a devastating effect on Chiswick with increased traffic congestion, bumper-to-bumper traffic and at times complete gridlock causing severe delays to journey times.  Increased air pollution is also a major concern.  I have had reports from residents who are experiencing exacerbations of their respiratory conditions which is very, very concerning.  It was good to meet the Deputy Mayor of London for Transport this morning to look at traffic mitigation for Chiswick. I hope a speedy resolution is achieved for all.”

Cllr Sam Hearn added, “It was interesting to see the issues from the wider perspective but sad that TfL was not aware of the more serious traffic issues affecting local residents”.

Tony Arbour AM added, “It was a useful meeting and I hope Heidi Alexander has listened to the concerns of local councillors and the residents they represent”.

Raising other issues

Taking advantage of this meeting, councillors raised other issues that require action.

Never forgetting the absurdity of ULEZ arrangements on the A4 in Chiswick

Cllr John Todd raised ULEZ and the absurdity of excluding from the extended ULEZ the stretch of the A4 between Chiswick roundabout and Hammersmith roundabout.  This stretch of the A4 runs alongside the William Hogarth School and St Mary’s School, both of which are on the mayor’s list of the most 50 polluted schools in London.  St Mary’s School is currently implementing a scheme to reduce pollution at the school.  Heidi Alexander said she would look at this anomaly. The ULEZ extension will be implemented next year.

Cllr Joanna Biddolph added that it was disappointing that the North Circular would be excluded from the extended ULEZ area.  “It means that people living on the North Circular, where I live, have to comply but the drivers of vehicles passing our front doors do not.” Heidi Alexander explained that traffic modelling had been pessimistic and that a far higher number – 80 per cent – of vehicles were compliant.  The expectation is that the same will be true for the extended zone even though, as Cllr Joanna Biddolph pointed out, many vehicles on the North Circular were moving between motorways on which they would not have to comply.

Stile Hall Gardens and Wellesley Road

Cllr Sam Hearn emphasised that traffic arrangements for these two roads had never been properly considered.  A partial consultation had been conducted several years ago but, he said, there is a need for a full consultation.  It needed both TfL and Hounslow Council to work on it together.  Andy Wiseall agreed to take up the issue.

Phasing the E3 bus

Cllr Joanna Biddolph raised the phasing of the E3 bus which can leave residents on Sutton Court Road, a short distance from the start of the route, waiting for 25 minutes for a bus and, yes, three then coming along at the same time.  Residents were becoming increasingly irritated by such an unreliable service.  Andy Wiseall said he would raise this with the relevant TfL team.

No idling signs

Several No Idling signs have appeared on some roads in Chiswick, including Sutton Court Road.  “This is a step in the right direction,” said Cllr Joanna Biddolph. “But it’s not all we need from Hounslow whose leader has still not replied to my email asking him to call for action on Hammersmith Bridge. We have seen the leaders of Hammersmith and Fulham and Wandsworth councils speaking up for their residents. We know the impact of the closure of Hammersmith Bridge has affected residents in Brentford so it’s not just an issue for Chiswick.  We need to reduce pollution here, and turning off engines in traffic that is stationary for a minute or more will help, but printing a few signs and sticking them on lampposts is far from engaging with the issue.  I am very grateful to Tony Arbour for responding, and with such speed, and for brokering this meeting with Heidi Alexander and Andy Wiseall.  Andy is clearly extremely knowledgeable and has listened to our concerns with openness and understanding.  Before today’s meeting we sent him a dossier of comments from residents with their photographs of traffic-jammed roads.  He has clearly taken note.  I am hopeful we will see improvements and that further adjustments will be made, as necessary, recognising that Chiswick is part of the wider picture, not outside it.”

ENDS

For further information please contact

  • Cllr Patrick Barr on 07976 703263and patrick.barr@hounslow.gov.uk
  • Cllr Joanna Biddolph on 07976 703466 and joanna.biddolph@hounslow.gov.uk
  • Cllr Sam Hearn on 07833 376222 and sam.hearn@hounslow.gov.uk
  • Cllr John Todd on 07866 784651 and john.todd@hounslow.gov.uk