diamond geezer

 Tuesday, June 07, 2011

London 2012  Olympic update
  Olympic Route Network

They've already released details of how the Olympics may restrict your ability to travel around London by train. Now they're releasing details of how the Olympics may restrict your ability to travel around London by road. Not simply which roads are to be part of the Olympic Route Network - that's old news - but information about precisely which lanes, slip roads and turns and will be prohibited. They've been dripfeeding details of these closures, area by area, as part of a lengthy consultation process. And the latest area to go up for public scrutiny covers the roads encircling the Olympic Park itself. People of Bow, Stratford, Leyton and Hackney Wick, here's your chance to see what the summer of 2012 might look like. Expect delays.

The complete raft of ORN information so-far released can be found here. Consultations on Phases 1 and 2 are already complete, and we're now into Phase 3 (which'll eventually include roads in and around Greenwich, but they're not online yet). Finally, later, comes Phase 4, which includes most of the major central London closures and may therefore make the mainstream media sit up and listen.

Here, as an example from phase 3, is the map showing the impact of the Olympic Route Network on part of Stratford High Street. That's the Bow Flyover roundabout on the left, with the Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road running top to bottom. The flyover itself isn't shown, only the off-ramp running along the centre of the road towards Stratford. And top right is Marshgate Lane, one of the most important entrances to the Olympic Park, especially if you're a VIP guest or sponsor.

the Olympic Route Network, Stratford High Street

What of the specifics? Boo, they're closing the bus stop closest to Marshgate Lane. But hang on, that's OK, they're merely relocating it temporarily, closer to the roundabout. Shifting the bus stop permits the creation of a short Games Lane, the top yellow strip on the map, to be operational 18 hours a day. Across the carriageway is another Games Lane, this time replacing the existing contraflow, which becomes a shortcut to the roundabout for Olympic traffic only. That's the reason why traffic from Cooks Lane and nearby blocks of flats is to be barred from turning right, it's "turn left towards Stratford" only. Meanwhile, inbetween those two Games Lanes, only a single lane remains for all other traffic. Cars, buses, lorries... if they're not on official Olympic business, this is where they'll be squeezed. Off-peak, that might not be too bad. But hey, it's Games Time, so life's not going to be terribly off-peak around here. We mere mortals can expect lengthy additional delays and traffic jams, while the Olympic Family will continue to nip round unfettered in the Games Lanes alongside.*
You may hate this invasive transport precedence, but get used to it, that's how the Olympics works. When they come to your city, you make space, that's the rules. Like it or lump it, London has no choice.

No such problems running west. There'll be no Games Lanes here, only a reversed contraflow (which almost nobody currently uses), creating a three-lane exit to the roundabout. Those two orange strips on the map represent lane closures underneath the flyover, which might sound bad but won't really inconvenience anybody either. And all those 'A's all over the map, they stand for "no stopping at any time", much the same as if this were an ordinary red route. Could be worse, quite frankly.

One thing that will be worse is the Games Lane underneath the Bow Roundabout. The A12's going to be one lane narrower in both directions here, which will slow down traffic flow something rotten. This interchange is an absolute linchpin of the Olympic Route Network, and the bad news is that these lanes will be sealed off for longer. Most Games Lanes only apply between mid-July (Olympic start) and mid-September (Paralympic end). But "the Route from Bromley-by-Bow to Lea Interchange will be needed for Games preparations and is expected to operate from late June until mid September 2012". That's three whole months of lane closures, when the Games is only on for one. Meanwhile, apparently, the Bow Flyover eastbound will be slimmed down to a single lane for the duration of the Games. This flyover closure doesn't appear on any map, it's only disclosed on the Consultation page. You really have to hunt around to uncover some of this stuff.

Sorry, I've bored you silly with specifics about the road junction at the bottom of my road. It is, admittedly, a desperately important junction close to the Olympic Park (which you've arrowed in the wrong direction on the map, TfL). But dig carefully and you might uncover something more locally relevant to you. Numerous lane closures on/off the A12 in Hackney Wick. An entire road junction in Old Ford whose layout is being redesigned by LOCOG. The impossibility of driving your car into Westfield for a fortnight or two. The extra circuit around Tower Hill for non-Olympic traffic. I could go on.

To have your say, use the Consultation tools provided, or drop in at one of several public events over the next few weeks. Whatever happens, don't suddenly act surprised and angry in a year's time when roads start closing and lanes get sealed off. They warned you. Make sure you listened.

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