Tower Bridge is closing to traffic for essential maintenance. But what exactly is going on? How long will the works take? And what'll happen to the bus routes? Read on for the answers...
Why is Tower Bridge closing?
Tower Bridge has to undergo essential maintenance works every 40 to 50 years in order to continue being used as a busy river crossing.
The last refurbishment of Tower Bridge happened in the 1970s. It now needs work that will include re-decking of the lifting bascules, new expansion joints, waterproofing of the viaduct arches and resurfacing.
The bridge is used by around 40,000 people, as well as 21,000 vehicles per day — that's a lot of wear and tear, not just on the road surface but to the structure of Tower Bridge itself.
When will Tower Bridge close?
The three-month closure starts on 1 October 2016 and will finish by 30 December.
During this time the work will be taking place 24 hours a day.
Although, as detailed below, pedestrians will only be affected for three weekends.
What will the works on Tower Bridge involve?
- Major maintenance to the bridge lifting mechanisms
- Replacing the timber decking and resurfacing the road and walkways
- Replacing expansion joints along the bridge to provide a smooth running surface
- Waterproofing the brick arches that form the approach to the bridge
Who's paying for it?
The work is being paid for by the Bridge House Estates, a charitable trust managed by the City of London Corporation to pay for the maintenance and operation of five of London’s bridges, including this one.
No taxpayer money will be used in the refurbishment of Tower Bridge.
How will pedestrians cross the River Thames?
A pedestrian closure will take place on three weekends from 26 November-11 December 2016.
Pedestrians will be able to cross as normal during all other times.
A free ferry service will be in operation to pedestrians when there is a full closure of Tower Bridge.
Will there be alternative routes for cyclists and motorists during the closure of Tower Bridge?
There will be a signed alternative route for cyclists to use.
Are bus routes that use Tower Bridge going to be diverted?
There are three bus routes that use Tower Bridge (42, 78 and RV1). They will be diverted as follows:
- Route 42 will stop running when it reaches the south side of Tower Bridge (closest to City Hall and The Scoop). There will be no service to stops further north during the works.
- Route 78 will be on diversion via London Bridge and will stop running at Finsbury Circus. No service stops will take place north of London Wall and services between inner southeast London, Tower Hill, Aldgate and Liverpool Street will be maintained.
- Route RV1 will be on a full diversion for the duration of the Tower Bridge works and will instead run from Tower Hill via East Cheap and London Bridge.
How will I drive across the river?
The closure of Tower Bridge will extend from the junction of Tower Bridge Road and Queen Elizabeth Street on the south side of the traffic lights by the A100 Tower Bridge Road and A1203 East Smithfield junction on the north side.
Two diversion routes are in place:
- Northbound: journey will involve crossing London Bridge from Borough High Street to Monument and east onto Eastcheap or Fenchurch Street.
- Southbound: journey will involve crossing over Southwark Bridge from Upper Thames Street, to Southwark Bridge Road/ Marshalea Road and onto Great Dover Street.
Drivers following the signed diversion will not be liable for the Congestion Charge. But if using any other alternative route within the Congestion Charge zone on Monday to Friday between 7am and 6pm, drivers will need to pay the Congestion Charge.
Will Tower Bridge still be open to the public during the closure?
The Tower Bridge Exhibition will still be open to the public during the closure. There might be temporary changes in access to the exhibition but clear signage will be in place to direct visitors.
Visitors will be able to look down at the works taking place below them from the glass floor at the Tower Bridge Exhibition.
Corporate and private events will still take place, with guests and caterers having full access to the venue space.