Local residents and visitors are being advised to plan ahead as construction work to remove the dangerous and outdated 1960s Old Street roundabout reaches a major milestone.
Transport for London's (TfL's) scheme is transforming roads in the area, replacing a junction that had one of the worst safety records in London with roads that are more welcoming to people walking, cycling and using public transport.
The project will see the northwest arm of the roundabout close permanently to all traffic, creating a major new public space with much improved walking and cycling access to Old Street station. In due course, fully segregated cycle lanes will run along all arms of the new junction and new pedestrian crossings will make it easier to move around the area on foot, significantly reducing danger to people walking and cycling. The transformation of the roundabout is set to be complete by the end of 2020.
To allow construction work to move onto the next phase, some roads in the area will be shut over the bank holiday weekend. Old Street west and City Road south will be closed from 21:30 on Friday 24 May to 00:01 on Monday 27 May to prepare for the switch to two-way traffic. Roads are expected to be a lot busier and some local buses will be on diversion or stop short of their destination.
From 00:01 on Monday 27 May, two-way traffic will begin at Old Street and the south-eastern section of the junction will be temporarily closed to vehicles. The right-turn from Old Street west into City Road south will be permanently banned. Increases in journey time are expected after the switch-over and TfL is advising people to take extra care in the area as traffic gets used to the new two-way system. Buses will run on their normal line of route in the new two-way layout and TfL is encouraging drivers to consider walking or cycling for local journeys.
Signed cycle routes are in place to help guide people cycling through the area during construction work, including segregated cycle lanes and dedicated cycle signals for people cycling east-west through Old Street. More travel advice can be found at tfl.gov.uk/old-street-works
Nick Fairholme, TfL's Director of Project and Programme Delivery, said:
'Our work at Old Street will transform journeys for thousands of people in the area and make it much easier and safer to walk, cycle and use public transport. The switch to two-way traffic is a major milestone for the scheme and some road closures and changes to travel are needed for work to progress. I'd encourage everybody in the area to take extra care as traffic gets used to the new road layout.'
Kevin O'Leary, Islington Council's Corporate Director of Environment, said:
'We're working with the Mayor of London, TfL and Hackney to transform the outdated Old Street junction to give more priority to people instead of vehicles, creating a much better environment for pedestrians and cyclists. We'll continue to work in partnership to make sure disruption is kept to a minimum as work continues on the transformation of Old Street.'
On 7 May, the pedestrian subway on Cowper Street was closed to enable work to begin on the construction of the new station entrance. Signs are in place to help guide people walking through the area.
When completed, the transformed Old Street roundabout will create a more pleasant area in which to live and do business. Working with the Old Street District Partnership, TfL is hosting interactive workshops to help businesses make the most of the opportunities the newly transformed area will provide and help them to reduce deliveries and servicing trips. After attending a workshop, Pinsent Masons LLP and their waste contractor, Mitie, worked together to look at how they could reduce their waste trips and have reduced their waste collections by 40 per cent.
Victoria Lebrec, RoadPeace Campaign Coordinator, said: "I'm really pleased to hear that works to Old Street roundabout are starting. The current layout is unsafe and we've seen some really horrible collisions happen there over the last few years. People walking and cycling should not feel like they are taking their lives into their hands when travelling through Old Street. At RoadPeace we see the devastation that road danger causes, and welcome TfL's commitment to addressing it."
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