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Blackwall Tunnel closures

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 30th October 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Russell Caroline Russell Green

In your response to my question 2019/12014 concerning the reasons for building the Silvertown Tunnel, you referenced 700 closures per year in Blackwall Tunnel. What alternative measures have been considered to reduce the number of these closures, other than a new road tunnel?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Transport for London has, over the course of many years, considered and implemented a number of measures to try and reduce the number of closures at the Blackwall Tunnel. This includes physical highway works, signage, barriers, operational and enforcement activities, and technological solutions.

For example, as part of the works undertaken to refurbish the northbound Blackwall Tunnel in 2011, a ‘high vehicle lane’ was introduced with physical barriers, signage and ‘escape routes’ to dissuade prohibited vehicles and help filter them away from the tunnel.

An enforcement site is also provided on the tunnel approach, enabling a dedicated Metropolitan Police Service Commercial Vehicle Unit Team, shared with the Driving Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), to carry out targeted on-site operations to reduce and manage incidents. In addition, over-height vehicle detectors are in operation along the main approach routes, together with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras and dot matrix signs, so that when over-height vehicles are detected, messages are displayed showing their number plate and advising they are on an unsuitable route and need to use an alternative river crossing. Innovative solutions have also been trialled such as using twitter accounts to encourage drivers to check they have enough fuel before travelling and a navigation app called Waze which provides real time re-routes to petrol stations in close proximity to the tunnel entrances.

Despite these measures, closures of the Blackwall Tunnel are still far higher than for any other tunnel in London.