Transport for London (TfL) is putting in barriers in the Rotherhithe Tunnel in a bid to prevent damage to the 114-year-old river crossing – with delays possible for three months.
TfL has put size restrictions on the vehicles that can come into the tunnel. But some 450 non-compliant vehicles a day still drive through the tunnel, getting a fine of up to £160.
The tunnel, which is in “urgent” need of repairs, would cost £120m to fix. This project would take a year, as the News previously reported.
In an attempt to prevent further damage, TfL began putting in height barriers on both ends of the tunnel today (Monday January 31), with some lane closures in place, TfL told London Assembly members. The barrier at the Rotherhithe end of the tunnel will be finished by late April. The barrier on the northern side will be complete a month earlier.
TfL is also bringing in “escape lanes” on both approaches to the tunnel, which will allow drivers to change their route if the warning bells on the barriers show that their vehicle is too high.
The transport agency warned that the works could cause traffic jams and told drivers to plan ahead.
Vehicles that are more than two metres (6.5 feet) high or wide, and trucks weighing more than two tonnes are not allowed to drive into the tunnel.
Drivers of non-compliant vehicles paid out about £5 million in fines in the first eight months of last year alone, meaning the new barriers could cause a significant loss of revenue for TfL in the short term – while preserving the safety of the tunnel.