Blackwall Tunnel: Closures mean east London residents hit with ‘major traffic issues’, despite TfL warnings

Traffic approaching the Blackwall Tunnel in east London. Credit: Jack Taylor/Getty Images.
Traffic approaching the Blackwall Tunnel in east London. Credit: Jack Taylor/Getty Images.

East London residents have been hit with “major traffic issues” including loud beeping late into the night due to planned closures of the Blackwall Tunnel.

The southbound route of the tunnel, which connects Poplar in Tower Hamlets with the Greenwich peninsula, was shut over the weekend to allow for works on the nearby Silvertown Tunnel.

Transport for London (TfL) had announced the closure ahead of time, which is due to be repeated next weekend, October 7 - 9.

Drivers of HGVs and large vans were, and continue to be, advised to avoid central London routes over the weekends. The Woolwich Ferry will operate a special service every 15/20 minutes during the weekend closures between 7am and 6pm.

East London residents living near the Blackwall Tunnel, or who have had to use roads in the vicinity, have however raised concerns about the impact on local traffic over the first weekend.

Sabir A T Kalam, who lives in Stepney Green, told LondonWorld: “The traffic has been really bad in the last few days. Not sure about the beeping as I didn’t hear much. The tunnel being closed has caused major traffic issues in the area.”

Mr Kalam said he was aware of the closures, but that “daily chores and routine still had to be done”.

Another Tower Hamlets resident, Jahanara Miah, said the volume of traffic meant they were unable to use their car, and that it made it difficult for a carer to visit their two disabled children.

Others have written online about issues such as loud beeping late into the night, as vehicles were caught in a standstill leading to the tunnel.

A TfL spokesperson said the authority apologises for any inconvenience caused, though did note customers were advised ahead of the works taking place.

They added they review and check the impacts after every closure, and will take any learnings on-board.

Prior to the first weekend of closures, Carl Eddleston, director of network management and resilience at TfL, said: “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.

“Working with Riverlinx CJV, 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 throughout these closures.

“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 work on the Silvertown Tunnel, due to open in 2025 from which date both it and the Blackwall Tunnel will be tolled, will enable the completion of the realignment of the southbound carriageway, which will carry the existing road over the entrance to the new tunnel.

Resurfacing and drainage work will take place throughout the closures.

London mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL say the new tunnel, which will connect Greenwich with the Royal Docks in Newham, is essential to alleviate congestion around the Blackwall Tunnel.

The scheme has however come under heavy criticism from groups ranging from academics to local councils, due to fears it will result in more traffic driving through some of the capital’s poorest and most polluted neighbourhoods.