New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

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roadtester
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New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by roadtester »

Is a new at-grade junction being installed on the Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach?

Came through there late last night and there were lots of cones/work going on - I was concentrating on driving rather than road spotting but it seemed that a large area of yellow cross-hatching had been painted on the road.

The only thing I can find on line is:

http://ukroadslondon.olduk.com/blog/201 ... poplar-47/
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by Chris5156 »

roadtester wrote:Is a new at-grade junction being installed on the Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach?

Came through there late last night and there were lots of cones/work going on - I was concentrating on driving rather than road spotting but it seemed that a large area of yellow cross-hatching had been painted on the road.
Oh dear, please, no!

Around the beginning of this month I passed through there a few times - there was a 30 limit and lots of cones and the rest, and seemingly some work on the central reserve. New kerbing seemed to be going in to make the central reserve wider. I remember thinking (somewhat fearfully) that it looked almost like a new pelican crossing going in.

We can only pray that it's temporary, maybe for some Olympic works or something similar. Though having said that they're planning to switch off some of the lights at the A13/A12 junction, so that would still seem bizarre.

London Streetworks has this:
Implement traffic signalled jnct with pedestrian facilities. Removal of the contra-flow bus lane on the Abbott Rd Nbound. 2 lanes maintained in each direction during day time works. Restrictions to 1lane will be limited to night time working. Lane closures will be kept to a minimum, night time working will be in co-ordination with Blackwall Tunnel Refirbishment work
That sounds like the contraflow bus lane (which allows buses to travel the wrong way through the underpass onto the B125 from Zetland Street) is being removed, and instead buses will cross over onto the southbound Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach on the level. How that could possibly be considered an improvement I don't know.

Other nearby events show kerb realignment and stats works on Zetland Road and other neighbouring streets - seems almost certain this will be a signalised junction on the A12. :(
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by Pilgrim Dan »

Barclays cycle Superhighway?
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by WHBM »

20 years ago Abbott Road and the underpass for Northbound traffic carried a large amount of traffic, and was jammed at peak hours. I don't quite know where it all went, but the underpass in recent times has seemed a white elephant.

The bus service in question that uses the contra flow lane is just one inner-suburban small single decker route, the 309 from Canning Town to Bethnal Green through an obscure and convoluted series of back streets. It runs just every 12 minutes, and for the most part when traversing the area is virtually empty. This has particularly been the case since the nearby DLR station at Langdon Park was opened. The revenue it takes must be absolutely minimal.

It's so disappointing that, three years after Boris' arrival, the squandering of TfL money on ludicrous and hardly used facilities at the expense of the majority just continues. One factor is that currently the bus route avoids any of the gross congestion that constantly occurs on the A12, especially southbound towards the tunnel. Now it's going to be caught up in all that.
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by doebag »

WHBM wrote:20 years ago Abbott Road and the underpass for Northbound traffic carried a large amount of traffic, and was jammed at peak hours. I don't quite know where it all went, but the underpass in recent times has seemed a white elephant.
Hmm.
Traffic now can turn right from A13 w/b to Tunnel approach n/b, which you could not do before all the improvement works. Traffic had to turn right into Abbot Rd to go tunnel approach n/b.
Also queues from A13 w/b turning left into the tunnel would be quite horrendous, and the Abbot Rd route was a good dodge.
Many times you used to see police waiting at the left turn into the tunnel, and making lane jumpers drive straight ahead on the A13
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by Glom »

So, they're going to introduce a signal into an otherwise free flowing high quality dual carriagway?
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by Bryn666 »

It's already got signals on the mainline there by the A13 slips so I'm sure another set will make zero impact on the horrendous peak hour chaos that occurs daily... :wink:

What annoys me the most about the N Approach is the 40 limit on the former motorway bit. :evil:
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by Chris5156 »

Today I am going to buy a stamp and make a postal enquiry to TfL Streets...
I wrote:Dear Sir or Madam,

Road works on A12 Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach

I am writing to enquire about the purpose of the works currently taking place on the A12 Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach at its junction with Zetland Street and Lochnagar Street.

The London Streetworks database indicates that the works are to install a signalised junction on the A12 and to remove the contraflow bus lane on the underpass to the B125 Abbott Road.

Having passed through these works several times, I decided to investigate what their purpose was, and I am stunned. The Blackwall Tunnel approaches are among the few sections of Greater London’s road network that are in any way fit for their purpose, and to inhibit traffic flow by adding traffic signals to a grade-separated junction seems nonsensical.

Even if one assumes that this scheme is inconveniencing traffic on the A12 for the benefit of buses, it is hard to see how. It appears to be replacing a perfectly good bus lane – one that bypasses the congested A12 completely – with a junction that will force buses to cross the A12 on the level and then travel along it. Often that will see buses caught up in the regular southbound queue towards the tunnel. That would seem to delay everyone, motorists and bus users alike, even further.

It is particularly surprising when juxtaposed with TfL’s proposal to switch off traffic lights at the A12/A13 interchange immediately to the south as part of the Olympic Road Network, with the stated aim of improving traffic flow.

It may be that I have not understood the purpose of these works correctly but as there is precious little information available about them – evidenced by the fact that I had to resort to searching the Streetworks database – it is hard to tell what exactly is being done.

I would be grateful if you could advise me as to what the benefits of this scheme will be and how it has been justified. In particular I am interested to know:

• what changes to journey times are predicted for road users on the A12 northbound and southbound;
• what changes to journey times are predicted for buses passing through this complex eastbound towards Abbott Road;
• how this scheme relates to the proposals to improve traffic flow on the ORN by switching off traffic signals at the junction immediately to the south of this next year;
• how this scheme serves the Mayor’s stated aim of “smoothing traffic flow”.

I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Marshall
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by Bryn666 »

Just add that you're curious if they have a drawing as well - sometimes better to get that than a verbose reponse from a technician drone like myself. :wink:
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by jackal »

This is outrageous if it's really as described. The only slight saving grace is that, if WHBM is correct, the bus may only run every 12 mins. But it's really come to something when the best thing about a new scheme is that it won't get much use!
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by WHBM »

I see that bus route 309 is already being diverted eastbound to avoid the contra-flow lane, and has been since November 2010. It is being turned north instead along the A12, and then making a U-turn under the A12 at the next junction to the north, Twelvetrees Crescent, to come back south again. The route is allowed 4-5 minutes westbound using the underpass from Aberfeldy Street to Zetland Street, but eastbound is now allowed between 5 (quietest time) and 12 (peak hours) minutes for the reverse. You will see that from the quietest time allowance, it's not much of a diversion.

"Temporary timetable introduced 23/08/10 (though the diversion - towards Canning Town between Zetland Street and Abbott Street in the Poplar area - was not introduced until 01/11/10)"

http://www.londonbusroutes.net/times/309.htm

Has some issue befallen the southbound bus lane throuh the underpass ? Has someone from Health & Safety somehow determined that it is unsafe ? I am thinking of how the two-way traffic in the newer Blackwall Tunnel, at times of closure of the old tunnel for overnight works, was also stopped for some seemingly spurious reason.

Even if so, the current diversion seems quite adequate for the handful of passengers who may use it. I'll bet a number of the diverted journeys are completely empty at that point.

The final nonsense would be if the signals are installed fixed cycle rather than bus activated.
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by M4Mark »

Bryn666 wrote:Just add that you're curious if they have a drawing as well - sometimes better to get that than a verbose reponse from a technician drone like myself. :wink:
As I understood it at the time I was involved with this one of the reasons was to provide better access to Lochnagar Street as part of future regeneration. Luckily I was not involved with the signal design just converting the preliminary signs and markings design into construction issue.

The information I had at the time (a TfL proposed signal design) indicated the signals would be fitted with no right turn and no U turns in both directions for the A12, a no right turn for traffic from the underpass and a no right turn except buses out of Zetland Street. The former bus lane in the underpass would be hatched out with a couple of new traffic islands as well to maintain single lane.

The layout southbound remains three lanes as existing. The layout northbound, lane 3 is now a dedicated right turn lane, lane 2 remains as an ahead lane as it was before and lane 1 now becomes an ahead lane through the junction whereas before it was lost to provide a lane gain for the underpass to merge.
Last edited by M4Mark on Tue May 31, 2011 18:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

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M4Mark wrote:The information I had at the time (a TfL proposed signal design) indicated the signals would be fitted with no right turn and no U turns in both directions for the A12, a no right turn for traffic from the underpass and a no right turn except buses out of Zetland Street. The former bus lane in the underpass would be hatched out with a couple of new traffic islands as well to maintain single lane.
That does make some sense - looking on GSV, what the map shows as through routes (e.g. Abbott Road) past the blocks of flats to the south of Lochnagar Street, are actually private estate roads that are not open to general traffic and not very wide anyway. Hence, the only way in to Lochnagar Street is from the north on the A12 and the only way out is towards the south. Presumably part of the thinking is that the new junction will allow full access and thus allow this lucrative little patch of land, near soon to be trendy Olympic waterfront, to be opened up for development as poky first-time-buyer flats. I would guess that if that's the case, public transport is then supplied by allowing buses to stop on the east side of the A12 rather than having them bypass it in the underpass.

Still not very happy about the idea but it does help to glean some of the thinking behind it. I posted my letter this lunchtime so I'll see what comes back from TfL.

(If Steven's dealings with them are anything to go by, I shouldn't expect the reply to make a lot of sense.)
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by Scratchwood »

Bryn666 wrote:
What annoys me the most about the N Approach is the 40 limit on the former motorway bit. :evil:
Which everyone ignores between the gatsos anyway, I guess it is transport policy to maintain even speed limits even if one section of the road in question is clearly of a vastly higher standard than the other sections.
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by WHBM »

Chris5156 wrote:I posted my letter this lunchtime so I'll see what comes back from TfL.

(If Steven's dealings with them are anything to go by, I shouldn't expect the reply to make a lot of sense.)
Here's what you normally get :

1. An immediate auto response, which says that in accordance with their procedures they are acknowledging your communication, that your matter is important to them, and again in accordance with their procedures you will get a reply within 21 days.

2. Right on the 21 day point, a second auto response saying the matter is under active consideration.

3. Several weeks after that, a response telling you how TfL are committed to reducing (whatever they're reducing this month), that all stakeholders have been consulted, that Underground usage has gone up by 12% over some period, that Boris bikes are being extended, and thanking you for your communication.
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by Chris5156 »

Reminds me of a line from the ever-brilliant Yes Minister:

"'The matter is under consideration' means we have lost the file. 'The matter is under active consideration' means we are trying to find the file."
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

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I have a reply from TfL, and given that it was posted on the 22nd June, that would make it precisely 21 days after they would have received my enquiry, as predicted! However, unlike your prediction, WHBM, I think it's actually quite helpful.

Salient parts reproduced below for your edification.
TfL Streets wrote:The background to this works scheme lies with the plans for large scale regeneration of the Lower Lee Valley. Specifically the local Borough - Tower Hamlets, and the London Thames Gateway Regeneration Corporation (LTGDC) see the provision of a new junction at this location as critical to enabling the redevelopment of 6 hectares around Ailsa Street to proceed. The plans include a new primary school, 800 homes, additional employment and new public open space. As a result they have lobbied for a new all movements permitted (including pedestrian facilities) junction to be provided with funding from the LTGDC.

A further key element of the scheme is to enable the future re-routing of the 309 bus service to access the new development sites via Lochnagar Street.

To address your specific questions:

* In general the capacity of this link is set by the capacity of the Blackwall Tunnel and it is considered that the junction will have a marginal impact on general congestion on the corridor. Provision of an additional stop line will however cause some additional delay to through movement along the main corridor. Modelling results indicate the worst delay being an average of 22 seconds in the am peak in the northbound direction. The least delay is southbound in the southbound direction in the pm peak where the junction in effect acts as a break in the queue accessing the tunnel.

* I have not been able to locate detailed information on bus journey times but generally lane 1 southbound is relatively free flowing compared to the 2 lanes queueing for the tunnel and the business case looking at the accessibility to the new development indicated positive bus benefits. There is a significant bus dis-benefit during the construction and the project is having to bear additional operational costs being incurred by buses.

* This junction will have to be decommissioned during the games period.

* This scheme has had a long and difficult history and this in part reflects the complex process of evaluating the proposal and balancing the conflicting requirements at this location. Enhanced access has been seen as critical to unlocking regeneration development of large areas isolated between the A12, A13 and River Lee and this scheme has been judged the best way of achieving this.
(Not entirely sure how you get LTGDC from a title where the penultimate word is "Regeneration", but there you are.)

I can accept the idea that the traffic on the East Cross Route is so congested, and so badly throttled by the lower capacity of the Blackwall Tunnel, that sticking a signalised junction on it won't make the slightest difference in real terms. It is, in fact, wholly believable.

What still concerns me is what this says about TfL's policy towards roads such as this: the fact that it is a grade-separated road (planned and built in this case to form part of a motorway standard ring road), no matter how congested, does not figure in their decision making, and I wonder if a similar proposal for a signalised junction on, say, the A13 or the North Circular would see a similar outcome or whether TfL Streets might choose to protect the route for through traffic. This makes me think the latter is even less likely than I had previously thought.
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by si404 »

Chris5156 wrote:(Not entirely sure how you get LTGDC from a title where the penultimate word is "Regeneration", but there you are.)
The 'D' would stand for development, and perhaps they haven't changed their acronym while their name has become more politically correct?
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by Glom »

So when do we start with the lynching?

If that much is being poured into regeneration would it be so much more to put in a footbridge? On an otherwise motorway quality road, I'd be terrified to cross at grade despite what some LED says.

After what TfB have done the Oxford Road, we all live in fear for our roads.
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Re: New at-grade jct on Blackwall Northern Approach?

Post by Chris5156 »

Glom wrote:If that much is being poured into regeneration would it be so much more to put in a footbridge?
Wouldn't make any difference to anybody since the lights would be there anyway. From what the letter says it will be possible to make right turns against oncoming traffic so the lights aren't just for pedestrian access.
On an otherwise motorway quality road, I'd be terrified to cross at grade despite what some LED says.
Might be an issue if the lights were red, there was nobody at the stop line, and it was a fast open road, so you had the potential for someone hurtling through without stopping. On the Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach, the road is thick with traffic day and night; if the lights turn red you'll have cars and lorries stopped at the line several vehicles deep in each lane by the time the green man shows. The speed limit there is 40. I really don't think you'd have anything to fear.
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