Here is the latest information which I received today in an e-mail from Southwark Council's Transport Department. I have reprinted it in full:
The network rail bridge was closed, under emergency powers by the police following a routine maintenance inspection, which revealed a crack in the beam.
The repairs are being implemented in two parts with the final part being undertaken in July 07. As the repairs are located under the bridge, they can only be implemented during closures of the railway.
These repairs will allow the bridge to be reopened to traffic but with limitations as follows :-
* The bridge will have a weight limit 7.5tonne, which will need to be physically enforced with a width restriction.
* Only one lane of traffic can be permitted to use the bridge due to the location of the repair.
The bridge can only be open to vehicular traffic once the above restrictions are implemented. This restriction will need to remain in place until Network Rail can gain funding for a permanent repair of the bridge, which would allow the removal of the weight limit and any associated traffic management measures.
Not surprisingly during the closure there have been opposing views regarding the closure, with some residents supporting the permanent closure of the bridge and others complaining about the additional travelling time and/or additional traffic travelling on their roads.
To facilitate the above restriction and the opening of the bridge to limited vehicular traffic, Network Rail consultants have submitted for consideration, some options, which would achieve the partial opening of the bridge.
These options centre around two themes:
* Allowing alternative lane working on the bridge (i.e. allowing priority to either north or southbound traffic across the bridge at any one time); or
* Making the traffic flow on the bridge in one direction only.
Both of these would incorporate a width restriction across the bridge of 2.1m (6ft 6inches) and the traffic of cars and light vans would only be allowed to cross the bridge on the western half of the carriageway.
However, all the options require additional traffic management measures at the junction of Camberwell Grove and McNeil Road. This is due to various potential safety constraints/concerns and at this stage officers view are that only one option can be progressed, which will carry minimal risk in terms of safety. That option is for using traffic signals to control vehicles across the bridge and that also incorporates the junction with McNeil Road.
1. Mini roundabout at jn McNeil Rd Only allows north bound traffic to use bridge, southbound traffic would still need to be diverted as present. Unbalanced traffic flow would mean roundabout would not operate efficently.
2. Single flow only Northbound Only allows north bound traffic to use bridge, southbound traffic would still need to be diverted as present. Conflict point where traffic emerges from McNeil Road.
3. Two-way flow Priority north bound Allows traffic to cross bridge in both directions but southbound would have to give way to northbound traffic. Difficult for traffic to exit McNeil Road with sub standard visibility.
4. Two-way flow signal controlled Allows both north and southbound traffic to cross bridge. Allows traffic to enter and leave McNeil Road safely. Better pedestrian safety.
All the above options were considered and the only one in our view that can allow traffic to cross the bridge in both directions safely is option 4. We have been waiting for confirmation from TfL(Signals) that the traffic signals scheme is an option and they can accommodate it within their programme of works. This has now been received and we have passed this information on to Network Rail with an indication that the overall cost is estimated at £121,000 and wait their confirmation that they will cover the costs fully.
As the bridge was closed under emergency powers it is necessary to reopen it when it is safe to do so. As we believe there is only one safe way of doing this (using traffic signals) the next issue is how this is communicated with the public as in reality we will be informing and not consulting.
Currently we have no indication when Network Rail will confirm their approval to fund the works but this maybe before the next round of Community Councils."
Please get in touch with me if you would like your views to be heard on this subject.