How Many Voids are There Under Chiswick High Road?

Concerns raised that sub-surface could be 'honeycombed' with holes

The hole in the ground has appeared opposite the Roebuck
The hole in the ground has appeared opposite the Roebuck. Picture: Phillipe Taxil

The discovery of a large hole under Chiswick High Road this Thursday has given rise to concern that other parts of the road surface could be compromised.

Work on the Cycleway near the junction with Cranbrook Road discovered the void which has required the closure of Chiswick High Road westbound from Chiswick Lane to Turnham Green Terrace.

Contractors working on the site say that the hole makes it unsafe for large vehicles to pass over it but the eastbound carriageway has remained open. The westbound carriageway surface appears to be intact with the void starting about three feet below.

Westbound bus routes including the 110, 267 and H91 are being diverted up Goldhawk Road, along Stamford Brook Road and Bath Road then down Turnham Green. Bus stops at Stamford Brook Bus Garage and Chiswick Lane are not being served.

Hounslow Highways says that the void is unrelated to the work being carried out on Cycleway 9. On Saturday evening it posted on social media that the void had been filled but 24 hours was needed to allow the concrete to hardened and it was planning to remove the emergency westbound closure by 1pm on Sunday (30 October).

Traffic reaching the junction with Chiswick Lane is being directed towards an already congested A4.

Concerns are being raised that the void may not be a one off but an indication that significant sections of the sub-surface of the High Road is compromised.

An engineer who has worked on major road projects contacted us to say, “It doesn’t seem likely to me that this is a one-off particularly coming so soon after the sinkhole appearing in Turnham Green. It could be that the underneath of Chiswick High Road is honeycombed with voids. Underground waterways or persistent leaks from water mains could be the reason.

"A comprehensive survey of the area needs to be done as soon as possible with ground penetrating radar to identify potential sinkholes. Fixing these could be expensive and disruptive even requiring a long term closure of the road but the alternative of doing nothing could have disastrous consequences.”

Road closure near Chiswick Lane junction
Road closure near Chiswick Lane junction

A spokesperson for Hounslow Council said, "While undertaking planned works for the new cycle route on Chiswick High Road at the junction with Cranbrook Road on Thursday 27 October, workers uncovered a void under the road and had to close the road as a priority measure to make it safe.

"The closure of the westbound Chiswick High Road between Chiswick Lane and Turnham Green Terrace is precautionary whilst council staff work with the utility companies and Transport for London to identify the cause and remedy. The eastbound route on Chiswick High Road remains open."

The hole is situated near the Cranbrook Road junction

Cllr Jo Biddolph said, "This closure was, of course, necessary but it will make journeys very difficult for many including people who do not know Chiswick well and are at risk of taking diversions that lead to them being fined, such as driving down Fishers Lane. I have therefore asked the transport department, and the communications team, to support Chiswick and help people navigate our roads. "

She points out that no alternative routes have yet been specified by the council and suggests the publication of a map which she believes should be standard procedure for any road closures. This would allow councillors and other residents to share information about the closure and help minimise resulting congestion. She also has requested that Fishers Lane is reopened to reduce queueing which has already built up on Acton Lane and South Parade.

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October 30, 2022->->->