Last Thursday Cllr Paul Noblet announced that Camberwell Grove rail bridge would re-open after works had been completed to install traffic lights and traffic barriers to regulate the flow of traffic over the weakened bridge. The announcement came after a two hour meeting where competing views were fully aired, and Andrew Downes, the Council's Traffic Officer, ruled out a scheme based on one-way traffic over the bridge due to safety fears. Andrew is in a difficult position, as he cannot sanction any scheme if he is aware of any potential safety problems - he would be opening himself and the Council up to a massive negligence claim.
I have always been opposed to a solution involving traffic lights, as it is bound to detract from the obvious merits of Camberwell Grove as an integral part of the conservation area. If we were not facing real time limits in this case I am sure that a wider review of road use in the area would enable us to come up with a solution which avoided traffic lights.
A couple of points should be made. Traffic lights will only be present until the rail bridge is replaced completely. To achieve that we have to lobby Transport for London and Network Rail. Secondly, Cllr Noblet did agree to urgently prioritise a transport review of Camberwell and neighbouring areas in order to develop a strategic answer to the current and anticipated problems of traffic congestion. Finally, there was agreement that we will have a meeting to assess the impact of the traffic light solution after about three months.
This whole episode has been incredibly difficult, and for the residents of Camberwell Grove some new problems are about to arise. Traffic lights in the middle of a beautiful street, queing polluting vehicles and a barrier which sounds like it belongs on a Formula 1 track will all be present in a few months time. These are all problems which are unacceptable for anything other than the short term. So the campaign for a new rail bridge has a new urgency. I have created an online petition - please sign it at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/CamberwellGroveBridge/