Camden New Journal - by SIMON WROE Published: 28 February 2008
Business owners at the roadworks in Tavistock Place
Four years of chaos... for a cycle lane
Businesses count cost of nightmare roadworks that have given workmen ‘a job for life’
THE Eiffel Tower took two years to build, Norman Foster’s Gherkin tower needed three, but four years of roadworks in Bloomsbury have produced... half a cycle lane.
Work began on the cycle lane in Tavistock Place in 2004. It was finished, then redesigned to separate it from the road and is now being upgraded again.
Philip Howard, a design consultant at Howard Wickberg Associates, whose office overlooks the road repairs, estimates the seemingly never-ending work on the cycle lane has cost in the region of £1 million, without considering the financial damage to businesses.
“Either the cycle lane or the road has been closed in one form or another for four years,” Mr Howard said. “It opened two weeks ago – now they’ve dug it up again, for the fourth time.
“We’ve endured appalling noise and filth and it goes merrily on. As soon as they finish at one end they start at the other – it’s like painting the Forth Bridge. The sheer waste of money is totally unacceptable.”
He fears that it is only a matter of time before someone is killed as a result of the disruption.
“It’s completely barking mad,” Mr Howard said. “People just shake their heads in disbelief – even the workmen just laugh. They’ve got a job for life.”
Waiter Suhjid Meah has never seen the street without roadworks in the four years he has been at Tavistock Tandoori.
“It’s a nightmare,” he said. “No one knows what’s going on. The traffic is chaos and the restaurant has lost a lot of business because of it.”
Tim Dillon, who works in a photo developers across the road, agreed. “The fact that it’s being dug up – again – means it wasn’t done right in the first place,” he said. “It’s gross negligence on someone’s part.”
A Camden Council press official confirmed that in the last four years the cycle lane had been built, then “revised” on the suggestion of the project’s funders, Transport for London, to separate the cycle path from the road.
The pavement was then upgraded, the carriageway resurfaced and a fire in a nearby Salvation Army hostel caused the road to be closed for 15 months.
The official added that the cycle lane was now being upgraded again, to “allow eastbound cyclists to merge safely into the traffic lane before they reach the junction”.