Traffic on A316 Lower Mortlake Road leading up to Manor Circus roundabout
September 22, 2023
A neighbourhood in Richmond has been compared to New York by disgruntled residents this month as it has descended into “constant gridlock” after Transport for London (TfL) closed a section of a major roundabout. People living nearby said drivers avoiding “chaos” caused by works at Manor Circus roundabout, on the A316, had used their streets as rat-runs – resulting in constant noise, road rage and a driver urinating in someone’s front garden. The impact of the closure has been widespread with extra congestion in Chiswick, Brentford and Putney being blamed on the works.
Although residents felt rat-running had improved this week after local MP Sarah Olney asked Google and Apple to stop diverting drivers down their streets, they said they dreaded the coming months as the project continues. They told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) traffic leading to the roundabout continued to be “chock-a-block”.
The project will deliver signalised pedestrian crossings on all four joining roads at the roundabout, wider footways and other highways improvements. It aims to address safety concerns and improve provisions for pedestrians and cyclists. TfL said there had been 13 collisions on the roundabout and zebra crossings in the 36 months up to February 2023. The works also include waterproofing repairs to the bridge underneath the roundabout.
But concerns have been raised over TfL’s management of the scheme and the impact on traffic levels. The phased works started in August and are set to continue until spring next year.
Ms Olney, Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park, said drivers had “spent hours trying to travel just a few miles” after a section of the roundabout closed for the project last week. She said TfL had put “almost no traffic management” in place and called for it to work “night and day to get the roundabout working as soon as possible”.
Patrick Herlihy, 84, has lived on Windham Road for around 60 years and described recent traffic in the usually “quiet area” as “crazy”. He told the LDRS gridlock due to rat-running traffic on his road had resulted in a taxi passenger using his toilet, while locals had been plagued by fumes, “shouting and horns blowing”. He said the rat-running had since improved, adding, “I look out from time to time and it’s built up again, but only for a certain amount of time – not continuously.”
Mr Herlihy said traffic leading to the roundabout, however, “flows very slowly, the lights are very short span to go before they’re red again, it’s all chock-a-block and nobody gives way”. He said he had not used his car for two weeks, and that locals had considered “putting signs up on the motorway to warn people about Richmond”.
He said, “Instead of taking my car out to do shopping I’ve had to walk, and that took long enough to get up to the roundabout and down to Sainsbury’s, and that’s chaotic all the time. The traffic is murder.”
A 53-year-old mum on Raleigh Road, who wished to remain anonymous, said drivers’ road rage was tipping her “over the edge”. She said: “When I try and get my car out, I’m meeting with a lot of aggression from drivers because they seem to think they’ve got priority over me because they’ve been queueing for a long time.”
She said, “I understand the necessity of the work, the problem is the fact it’s led to gridlock on this road and it’s just adding a lot of time to every single journey, and just being met with abuse and aggression from drivers and unnecessary honking.”
The resident said she had not gone to the gym that morning because of the traffic, but she had noticed an improvement in the congestion while speaking to the LDRS before cars started building up again. She said: “It has been constant gridlock. Someone described it as being like living in New York because it had that honking.”
She described traffic leading to the roundabout as “chock-a-block” and said she had seen a driver travelling on the wrong side of the road at “really high speed” to avoid it. She said she felt the project had not been “very well thought through” in terms of the impact on residents, and that the expected length of the works was “just a really long time when you think it’s a problem that’s happening every single day, if you’re living here, every single journey, and if you’re working from home… it’s just constant noise”.
Sarah McMichael, 54, lives on Windham Road and said it had been “unacceptably mad and busy”. She had noticed an improvement in the traffic on her road after Ms Olney contacted Google, but said residents were still “filled with a feeling of dread” about the coming months.
She said the “mad” traffic light system at the roundabout was only letting around four cars through at a time, which had made “getting anywhere in that direction virtually impossible”.
Dom Frank said the congestion on A316 Lower Mortlake Road, leading to the roundabout, was affecting business at convenience shop Richmond Local, where he works. The 29-year-old said the impact on trade had been “very difficult”. He explained the traffic was making customers “already late, then [if] they come here to buy, they get more late – that’s why they don’t come here”.
A 75-year-old woman who lives on Raleigh Road, and wished to remain anonymous, also said the congestion had been “stressful and depressing”. On a walk the previous day, she said she was “actually overtaking the traffic”.
She said, “The gridlock in the road has been so bad with all the car engines running we’re worried about the emissions and the pollution. That’s my car there and I haven’t been able to move it.”
The resident said congestion on her road had improved, but she was concerned about “how long that’s going to last”. She said it had led to “mopeds driving up the pavement because they couldn’t be bothered to wait in the traffic” and “somebody else urinating in somebody’s front garden”.
A 72-year-old man, who wished to remain anonymous, has lived on Sandycombe Road since 1983. He described the situation at the roundabout as “chaos” and said his road had experienced a much higher volume of rat-running traffic since the works. But he said he was pleased changes were being made to the roundabout as “you always take your life in your hands crossing there”.
He said: “It did need something doing because you’re basically crossing six lanes of traffic as a pedestrian just relying on a zebra crossing, and lots of people have been killed or injured there.”
Traffic on Sandycombe Road
Richmond Council has asked TfL to consider extending working hours, improving traffic light phasing and amending bus services, along with reducing the number of routes coming into the roundabout and adding suitable diversions. It has also requested TfL increase signage up to the M25, and in towards central London, to divert drivers. The authority is hosting an online public meeting on September 28 for anyone impacted by the issue, and has invited TfL to attend.
Lib Dem councillor Alexander Ehmann, the council’s transport lead, said, “We know these works are causing major problems that are impacting many people, and not just those living and working in the area – this is a major TfL red route connecting west London to the M3. As in this instance TfL are both the traffic authority and delivering the project, the council has no control over the works, but we do have a responsibility to put pressure on TfL to make sure the work is done as well as possible. It is clear the current situation cannot go on.
“TfL’s works include essential waterproofing maintenance of the rail bridge under the Manor Circus roundabout, to ensure its safety. This work is being combined with highways improvements to minimise the impact of doing the two sets of work separately. While the council is supportive of the works, they are causing an unacceptable level of disruption which needs to be dealt with urgently if the current traffic management is expected to be in place for the rest of this year.
“Councillors and officers have already met with TfL on site to show them the issues and implore them to consider a number of measures that we think could help. We await the swift outcome of their deliberations this week and will provide a further update as soon as we have it.”
Councillor Ehmann said the authority was aware of the impact of heavy traffic on air quality and asked residents to consider turning off their engines while stationary.
A TfL spokesperson said, “We’re determined to eliminate death and serious injury on London’s roads, which is why we’re working at Manor Circus to make vital changes including new pedestrian and cyclist crossings and wider pavements. We are also carrying out essential maintenance work to the bridge that the roundabout is situated on as part of this work.
“This work has led to an increase in traffic in the area and we are sorry for the disruption caused to people in the local area. We have made changes to the local bus network to respond to this and are also working closely with local partners and our contractor to see what further changes could be made to reduce disruption. All road users in the area are advised to leave more time for journeys and to check our website for the latest travel information.”
Charlotte Lilywhite - Local Democracy Reporter