A102 view showing footbridges
The new bridge – in yellow – was put into place in March

The southbound Blackwall Tunnel will be closed for two weekends as work on the new Silvertown Tunnel steps up a gear.

Drivers are being warned that the tunnel will be closed on 00.01 on Saturday June 24 to 05.00 on Monday June 26 to allow for a 1960s footbridge across the A102 to be dismantled.

A replacement footbridge was installed in March and will soon be open to the public. The old bridge is going to allow for a new flyover to be built across the entrance to the Silvertown Tunnel, which is due to open in two years’ time.

The northbound tunnel will remain open, but there will be delays and diversions on the Saturday evening, when the main bridge span is removed.

In addition, bus route 108 will be split in both directions, running from Lewisham to North Greenwich and Canning Town to Stratford International, except for the early hours of the Monday morning when southbound buses will run via Tower Bridge.

Transport for London says that a second Blackwall Tunnel closure, to allow for drainage and utility works, is pencilled in for July 8-10, although these dates have yet to be confirmed.

Work on the controversial new tunnel, which will include a dedicated lane for HGVs and buses, is now dominating much of the Greenwich Peninsula. One bore of the tunnel has already been dug from the Royal Docks, the machine is now being turned around so it can dig the second bore.

The tunnel is being built by Riverlinx, a consortium which is funding the construction and will then be paid back by tolls charged to drivers of both the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels.

Silvertown Tunnel rotation chamber
Workers are preparing to dig the Silvertown Tunnel’s second bore

“The Blackwall Tunnel is used by tens of thousands of vehicles every day and we appreciate that these works will have an impact on some drivers,” said Carl Eddleston, TfL’s director of network management.

“Working with Riverlinx, we have worked hard to try and limit the potential disruption these will cause, such as putting on a special service for the Woolwich Ferry and ensuring a northbound route can be maintained across the two weekends. We will also be taking the opportunity to carry out works within and around the tunnel to help deliver future maintenance work more efficiently and ensure it continues to safely operate.”

The closure will come as the Silvertown Tunnel returns to the local political limelight, with Greenwich councillors expected to pass a motion later this month calling on mayor Sadiq Khan to convert the tunnel to more sustainable transport uses.

However, they are unlikely to receive much of a hearing from their Labour colleague, whose recent book Breathe: Tackling the Climate Emergency devotes four pages to justifying his decision to build the tunnel, which opponents say will bring more congestion and pollution to neighbourhoods near the crossing.

Ignoring the widespread opposition to the project within his own party – with both Greenwich and Newham councils now opposed – Khan called the tunnel “the green movement’s very own ‘vocal minority’ issue”.

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