HC Deb 11 March 1991 vol 187 c654
3. Ms. Gordon

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will ensure that whenever repair and maintenance work is required in Blackwall tunnel, one bore is kept open for two-way traffic of private vehicles and small vans.

The Minister for Public Transport (Mr. Roger Freeman)

Two-way traffic is operated when necessary in the southbound tunnel. This is not possible for the north bound tunnel, constructed in 1897, which is too small for high-sided vehicles in both directions.

Ms. Gordon

Is the Minister aware that daytime closures at the weekend cause massive traffic jams through the east end, particularly on Sundays? Last Sunday, not one policeman was to be seen, except those caught in the traffic jams, and when my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) asked some of them whether they were from the traffic department they said, "Very definitely not, Sir." An irate constituent wrote to me telling me that he was caught for four hours trying to get home from Kent. [Interruption.] I remind the Minister that the old Blackwall tunnel—now the northbound bore —carried two-way traffic, including buses, until the late 1950s—[Interruption.]—and could do so again. That is perfectly feasible.

Mr. Freeman

Despite the background noise, I appreciate the problems that the temporary closure of the tunnel has caused in docklands. Work will be completed after next weekend. I hope that the problem will be alleviated by the boring of a third Blackwall tunnel under the Thames, for which design contracts will be let shortly.