It’s not looking good for users of the Woolwich Foot Tunnel, which quietly closed about a month ago during refurbishment works, and hasn’t reopened since. Both it and its sister tunnel at Greenwich are being revamped – at Greenwich, the stairs have been closed off and travellers are directed towards the lifts, with the tunnel closing completely at night (or when the lifts are broken).
At Woolwich, the plan was to start work on the lifts – but this has been derailed by problems with the stairs, and the entire tunnel has been closed. Unfortunately, nobody knows how long for, and a Greenwich Council statement issued yesterday only sheds a little light on the mystery: “Structural weaknesses have been revealed at the tunnel, which have required us to close both the stairs and lifts at the same time. There will be no public access to the tunnel at any time until the safety issues can be resolved.”
What is worrying, though, is a public notice slipped into this week’s edition of council puff-sheet Greenwich Time – announcing the council’s intention to close the tunnel at any time to facilitate work or if there is a danger to the public. The order is for six months, and replaces an earlier one authorising the council to close the tunnel during weekday daytimes only.
With both Greenwich and Woolwich foot tunnels closed at night, there’s no way for cyclists to cross the Thames between the murky Rotherhithe Tunnel and the Dartford Crossing, while pedestrians who miss the last Docklands Light Railway trains have only the overnight 108 bus service through the Blackwall Tunnel to rely on (and even that’s being escorted through because of refurbishment works).
Could it be shut for months on end? A council spokesman was unable to say how long the closure could last for, but did say: “Our contractors are working to open Woolwich Foot Tunnel as soon as possible and we’ll post any details on re-opening dates as soon as they are known on the website.”
Hopefully this will be sooner, rather than later.