TfL says Croydon Flyover is in need of urgent safety works

No through road: the Croydon Flyover needs urgent repairs to avoid closure over safety concerns

The Croydon Flyover could soon be assessed as in a state of dangerous disrepair and closed to traffic because Transport for London does not have the money required to carry out urgent repairs that are required.

That’s according to a report submitted to the TfL board chaired by London Mayor Sadiq Khan last week, as the financial crisis that has hamstrung the capital’s transport infrastructure since the start of the covid lockdowns in March 2020 becomes ever more acute.

The Flyover, Croydon’s very own urban motorway which opened in 1969, is increasingly showing its age, its concrete pillars flaking and chipping off chunks to reveal the rusting steel framework beneath. Other similar 1960s era concrete road constructions around the capital, notably the Westway, have suffered structural decay and damage, forcing closures in recent years.

Liar: Boris Johnson spent more on his Garden Bridge fantasy than on bridge repairs when he was London Mayor. Three times he promised a tram extension to Crystal Palace

An estimated 40,000 vehicles travel across the Flyover every day. TfL needs to carry out urgent upgrades to the lighting on the Flyover, but lack the finances to give the required works the go-ahead.

The Croydon Flyover and Westway are among several major road structures in the capital that TfL warned in a report to its board last week may have to close for safety reasons.

The TfL board meeting agenda papers released said, “45 of TfL road network structures, bridges and tunnels have interim safety measures” in place.

Six roads and tunnels – the A40 Westway, Rotherhithe Tunnel, Gallows Corner Flyover, Brent Cross Flyover, Vauxhall Bridge and the Croydon Flyover – were identified as being at risk of “imminent closure” due to their deteriorating condition.

The report says, “without long-term funding certainty we risk significant disruption due to asset restrictions and closures, which will stifle the economic recovery and increase whole-life costs”.

With TfL’s usual income stream – fares from passengers – all but choked off since the start of lockdown, the London-hating Conservative government has been playing political games over funding for the capital’s Tube, bus, trains, trams and road networks.

TfL estimated that it needs to spend £2billion on its entire road network during the next 10 years to prevent key road bridges and tunnels from shutting.

Last weekend, the Department for Transport extended its negotiation deadline with TfL, once again avoiding providing the sort of long-term funding settlement the city requires. The government somehow managed to summon up longer-term and more generous settlements for the privately-owned rail operators whose networks have been similarly hit by the impact of covid.

Unsafe: Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to motor traffic for nearly three years. Might a similar fate await the Croydon Flyover?

According to a report in trade magazine New Civil Engineer, “The deteriorating condition of TfL’s road structures has been a long time coming.

“Last year, TfL meeting agenda papers revealed that the cost of patching up London’s surface transport assets has increased by 762per cent during the last five years. This includes all bridges and tunnels in the capital as well as River Thames crossings.

“TfL attributes this increase to delays and budget cuts to its surface transport assets renewal programme, which includes major repair work to at risk structures including the Rotherhithe Tunnel, A40 Westway, Vauxhall Bridge and Hammersmith Bridge.”

It was the New Civil Engineer that revealed that more money – £53million – was spent developing plans for the then Mayor Boris Johnson’s failed Garden Bridge project than TfL had spent on maintaining 25 River Thames crossings during the last 10 years. During his mayoralty, Johnson also managed to “spaff” a further £13million on proposals for a bridge between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf before that plan was axed in 2019.

Croydon has already been hard-hit by government-enforced cut-backs at TfL, with long-promised and carefully planned traffic schemes prepared for the busy Fiveways Junction on the A23 Purley Way, and for the area around Old Town and Roman Way being scrapped by order of Whitehall, while bus routes across Croydon and Sutton are being “rationalised” – generally meaning reduced.

Today Val Shawcross, Labour’s candidate to become Mayor of Croydon, added her voice to the calls for the Tory government to provide long-term assurances about vital funding for transport.

Danger list: how the Croydon Flyover featured in last week’s reports to the TfL Board as a road in urgent need of safety works

“The Croydon Flyover is a vital part of Croydon and London’s traffic system,” she told Inside Croydon.

“It’s been in place since the late 1960s it has linked us to our neighbours in Sutton and provided a vital south London access route for residents and businesses alike.

“As the flyover is such an important London-wide strategic route, Transport for London have responsibility for its maintenance. The government is failing to provide even an annual financial settlement to TfL and the consequence of this lack of long-term planning will be that important safety work on the lighting on our Flyover will be suspended.”

Strategic: mayoral candidate Val Shawcross

Shawcross is a former leader of Croydon Council, but has also worked as a London Assembly Member and was Khan’s deputy mayor for transport.

“During my time as deputy mayor of London,” Shawcross said, “I learned that timely maintenance of our transport infrastructure is vital. A badly maintained transport system is just not efficient and can create dangers.

“If our Flyover in Croydon is not safe to use, then traffic in Croydon will grind to a halt. If the government can write off billions of pounds in wasted money in frauds following badly managed business loan arrangments and on below standard PPE items, then it can help Croydon by finding enough money to keep our essential strategic road safe to use.”

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Boris Johnson, Heidi Alexander, London-wide issues, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, TfL, Transport, Val Shawcross and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to TfL says Croydon Flyover is in need of urgent safety works

  1. This is nothing new. TfL were well aware of the deteriorating state of the flyover when I was working at Croydon pre 2010. I seem to recall reports/presentations/proposals from them at the time about the need for maintenance. Prior to TfL taking responsibility for the flyover (as part of the A232 red route) Croydon Council spent money repairing the joints in the road and some other safety work. I have no idea what they have done in recent times but as concrete structures age one needs to keep on top of issues like water ingress and spalling concrete.

    • “Spalling”? A real word?

      • Lewis White says:

        yes, a real word meaning that an area of the surface comes away in a patch from the main surface. Normally an area of surface concrete that is pushed outwards by the rusting of a steel reinforcement bar in the concrete, but can relate to frost damaged brickwork and a few other things.

      • Certainly is. As per dictionary, it’s when concrete fragments delaminate from reinforced concrete due to rusting and expansion of the steel reinforcement. Time consuming and expensive to repair as well as dangerous should the concrete fall on people below.

  2. Lewis White says:

    It is noteworthy that in the USA, Joe Biden’s government has brought in major funding to mend and replace such major road structures.

    A quick look any map of the US state will show huge rivers, swamps and sea inlets spanned by bridges. Some several miles long.

    It does not take a lot to realise how much trade, traffic and people cross these every day. It would be chaos within a few years if the US government had not stepped in now with funds.

    It has to be said that elevated roads over and close to London residential areas, such as the flyover and part of Roman Way, are bleak dusty, areas with lots of traffic from which the fallout – a lethal polluted cocktail of air mixed with exhaust gases, and dust from tyres and brakes— rains down upon the nearby houses and flats. Plus a constant noise.

    But perhaps not as bad as the pollution that would be experienced by someone whose front door opens on to Purley Way or the roads in Old Town and the Mitcham Road area.

    And certainly not as bad as the pollution that will caused – (and breathed in by residents) — by all the cars that will be diverted from the flyover and Roman way if these structures have to be closed.

    Could it be that Boris, as the bicycling ex- Mayor of London, has a cunning plan to stop motor traffic in its tracks, leaving bicycles as “King of the Road”? Or are others in his environmental advisors pulling the strings without his being aware ?

    The article mentions that “TfL meeting agenda papers revealed that the cost of patching up London’s surface transport assets has increased by 762per cent during the last five years”.

    If only “Austerity” George Osborn had understood the key thing about maintenance of such essential items of infrastructure. Had he been responsible for maintaining the family socks and jumpers, he might have learned the wisdom of the phrase “A stitch in time saves nine” . Investment of a million pounds saves nine million. Probably not far off.

    Deferred maintenance of major structures ends up requiring major or total renewal, not just repairs. Bridges are not potholes.


  3. Sarah says:

    When constructed, the flyover was given a special ‘under road’ heating system to keep it ice free. But it was never turned on or used due to costs. It would use enough kilo watts to light all of Croydon’s street lights.

  4. Anthony Miller says:

    When it says insufficient lighting… I can’t help but notice there are several lamposts on the flyover which seem to have been cut down leaving only a 5 foot base standing…. Why? There’s one clearly visible in the central reservation on the top photo…? I wondered if they’d reduced the number of lights because flats were built adjacent? Or if it was a money saving scheme… But I’m sure the number of lights has decreased over the decades…

  5. Lewis White says:

    Another cunning plan ….. which might appeal to Boris’s love of horticulture.

    Convert the sides of the flyover to a linear planter, plant trees and shrubs, and call it “Croydon’s Garden Bridge” or the “Hanging gardens of Crocus valley”.

    Have trailing plants to drape over the parapet, with renewed solar power lamps themed to light up like the Aurora Borealis,as electric vehicles pass over. It would reward eco-drivers.

    It would fit in well with the long term programme of coloured lights on the tops of croydon’s tall buildings.

    The carriageways in both directions would be narrowed a tad to allow for the planters, but it should still work.

    Nearby residents would see greenery, not “greyery”, and the trees would catch pollutants from the road.

    Not bad eh, at £ a few million.

    • Angus Hewlett says:

      All this talk of lighting and horticulture.. am sure they could grow something under the flyover with solar powered lamps that would fit right in with the local atmosphere and, with a street value of £10,000/kg, raise more than enough money to pay for the repairs.

      Saffron crocuses. A traditional Croydon export.

      What did you think I meant?

      • Lewis White says:

        Great, self-financing idea, above from Angus H– Urban Horticulture !

        Another possibility would need no high powered lighting, but would need some strategic light-proof walling at the edges to exclude the light. Also, some water (ok, that might seep in through the roof from the cracks in the tarmac road above) , and a lot of …. manure. Urban mycology, whether the edible fungi are white, brown, oriental, or magical.

    • Colin Cooper says:

      Sadly wouldn’t work as you have to bear in mind that EV’s are considerably heavier due to the battery packs and therefore likely to cause more not less damage to the structure!

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