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October 3, 2023

Transport for London (TfL) has apologised for the chaos caused after a roundabout had temporary traffic lights installed while it’s upgraded, saying the current layout will have to continue until December. Major works at Manor Circus roundabout in Richmond, on the A316, have temporarily stopped the junction from operating as a roundabout. Residents reported “chaos” and gridlock after works began at the site, and in a public meeting last week TfL provided updates on the project.

The scheme will deliver signalised pedestrian crossings on all four joining roads at the roundabout, wider footways and other highways improvements. It aims to address safety concerns and improve provisions for pedestrians and cyclists. TfL said there had been 13 collisions on the roundabout and zebra crossings in the 36 months up to February 2023. The works also include waterproofing repairs to the bridge underneath the roundabout.

Residents raised concerns about the impact of the works on traffic levels when the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) visited the area on 19 September. The phased works started in August and are set to continue until spring next year.

A 72-year-old man, who wished to remain anonymous, described the situation at the roundabout as “chaos”. He said Sandycombe Road, where he lives, had experienced a much higher volume of rat-running traffic since the works.

Patrick Herlihy, 84, also said recent traffic in the usually quiet area had been “crazy”. He told the LDRS traffic leading to the roundabout “flows very slowly, the lights are very short span to go before they’re red again, it’s all chock-a-block and nobody gives way”.

Richmond Council held a public meeting on 28 September, attended by TfL, to provide updates on the works and answer questions. In a presentation at the meeting, TfL said the junction can’t operate as a give-way roundabout during the current phase of works so contractors have enough space to carry out repairs on the bridge deck. Temporary traffic signals are being used on all approaches to the roundabout to manage vehicles and pedestrians. It said the current layout is expected to end by mid-December, when the bridge deck works will be completed and it will be able to return to operating the junction as a roundabout.

Lib Dem councillor Alexander Ehmann, the council’s transport lead, apologised on behalf of the authority for any inconvenience caused by the works. He said the council understood residents’ concerns and had worked “tirelessly to try and improve on the situation”.

Poppy Windsor, community partnerships lead at TfL, also apologised “for all the disruption to everyone’s lives and their businesses” as a result of the works. She said the project was complicated and had been planned for a long time, including mitigations to ease the impact on traffic levels, “but clearly it wasn’t enough”. She said TfL had put in mitigations and welcomed feedback from the public going forward.

Traffic on A316 Lower Mortlake Road leading up to Manor Circus roundabout
Traffic on A316 Lower Mortlake Road leading up to Manor Circus roundabout

Nick Owen, head of strategic coordination at TfL, said it closed Sandycombe Road between Raleigh Road and the A316 to vehicles travelling southbound on 22 September due to the impact of the works. He said, “Our view is that the area is still congested, I’m not going to suggest everything is back to normal, but certainly we are experiencing significantly less congestion than we did last week.

“I think our buses are reporting about a halving of delay in the area, which we’re pleased with. As a result, there’s no intention at the moment to do any further closures or any further interventions… but we are continuing to monitor the area and of course, should things change, we do have contingency plans up our sleeve should we need to implement them.”

Carl Pirie, project manager at TfL, said it was also in conversation with contractors about the possibility of extending working hours on site to 24 hours a day. Simon Waters, stakeholder manager at contractor Eurovia, said it was looking at whether the works could be accelerated by changing the site hours – including extending the normal day shift or working in a split shift model. He warned that extending the hours to 24 hours a day might not be as efficient as expected.

In response to a question on how the impact of the works could be eased going forward, Councillor Ehmann said the council had put up extra signs asking drivers to switch off their engines when stationary to cut emissions. Mr Owen also said the most impactful phase of the works was set to be completed by mid-December. He said TfL expected the impact of the works to be “greatly reduced” after this point, and that it would continue to monitor the situation and do everything it could to mitigate the short-term effects.

Councillor Ehmann later said the council and TfL were in “constant dialogue” and could hold another public meeting on the works if necessary in future. He added, “We are all working to try and minimise the level of disruption.”

Charlotte Lilywhite - Local Democracy Reporter


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