New restrictions placed on vehicles going into the Rotherhithe tunnel left drivers reeling this week, after it was closed over the weekend for “essential ventilation work.”
Goods vehicles heavier than two tonnes or higher than two metres are no longer allowed to use the crossing.
They are now being encouraged to use Tower Bridge or the Blackwall Tunnel to cross the river.
Among those caught out by the change are specialist mini-buses taking disabled children to school.
One mother affected, who gave her name as Catherine, told the News: “Loads of special needs transport buses use the tunnel.
“If they can’t use the tunnel it’s going to be a disaster.
“Other routes add literally hours to their journey – my daughter Ruby is 14 and a wheelchair user. It’s the only way she can get to school from our home.”
Specialist groups provide transport to special needs schools north of the river and many of them use the Rotherhithe tunnel as their main crossing point.
When she asked TfL for clarification, a spokesperson told the mother – who is based in the Isle of Dogs – that the special needs transport would still fall foul of the newly placed restrictions on vehicle sizes and weights.
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Black cabs had been told they were allowed to use the tunnel after the new restrictions came into place on Monday.
However, there was confusion as waiting police officers enforcing the new policy allegedly refused to let cabbies into the tunnel.
Black cab driver Paul Cook said on Twitter: “This morning they weren’t letting any use the tunnel, I had a chat with the copper at the tunnel this afternoon and he said they made a mistake
Another, named only as Stephen, told Transport for London: “They have turned me and many other taxis away.”
Gareth Powell, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, said: “Safety is our top priority and this closure and changes to the vehicles allowed in the tunnel is absolutely necessary to ensure the tunnel’s future.”