Gridlock on the Green

Thames Water says roadworks on Wood Lane are essential - but could have waited

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Wood Lane is partially closed causing road chaos to central Shepherd’s Bush, as work is carried out on three major water mains – work that was originally scheduled to take place in the next couple of years but was brought forwards at the council’s request.

The work itself – to re-line the mains water pipes which serve most of the White City and Shepherd’s Bush area - began on Wednesday and is essential to prevent future leaks or pipe bursts, Thames Water says.

However, they say they brought their schedule forwards because the council wanted all utilities to be put in over the next few months. Thames Water says the council chose to close the whole of the northbound side of Wood Lane so the work could be completed more quickly. Other options would have been to close the road in stages or in narrow strips, they said.

The northbound part of Wood Lane is completely closed and motorists are being diverted. Four bus routes - the 72, 95, 220 and 272 – are also following a diversion as they head north. This means that from Shepherd’s Bush Green, they turn left into Uxbridge Road, right into Bloemfontein and right again into South Africa Road, from where they rejoin their routes. TfL says this diversion will be in palce for the next three months.  

This is in addition to the other bus disruption already taking place: in mid-April, the 72, 220 and 283 bus stop on the north side of Shepherd’s Bush Green was closed, forcing passengers to walk to the stop outside the West 12 shopping centre on the other side of the Green. This will continue until October.

The Central Line Tube station is also closed until October.

“The works were brought forward to avoid disruption over the Christmas period and to coincide with other improvement works in the area," said Councillor Nicholas Botterill, Deputy Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Cabinet Member for Environment.

“No one likes roadworks and it made more sense to get all the works done in one go rather than repeatedly digging up and re-surfacing the road over the next two or three years, which would have caused more inconvenience to our residents and businesses,” he said.

Traffic has been slow around the Green since the closure came into effect on Monday. “Traffic was stationary throughout Shepherd's Bush for hours this morning, as the closure – planned to last for up to four months – was introduced with inadequate warning and signage on approach roads,” complained Shepherd’s Bush MP, Andy Slaughter.

“Shepherd's Bush Tube Station has been closed for several months, and is not scheduled to reopen until October,” he added. “In addition roadworks and other station and bus stop closures in the area have brought traffic to a standstill and make using public transport almost impossible.”

“The council's decision to close all of the links into and out of Shepherd's Bush at the same time shows how obsessed they are with doing whatever Westfield tell them to do – no matter what the effect locally” Slaughter said.

Thames Water says there will be no disruption to the area’s water supply during the works, as the three mains will be switched off in turns.

"This project will allow essential maintenance work to a major drinking water supply pipe into the W12 area. Thames Water acknowledges there will be some disruption while works are ongoing, but we believe the eventualbenefits to you as our customers will outweigh the short term difficulties," they said.

The work is due to be completed in October but the council says the north-bound side of Wood Lane may well open before that.   

Westfield will completely resurface the road afterwards, Thames Water has said.

Yasmine Estaphanos

3 June 2008