DRIVERS could face four months of traffic chaos as work to improve traffic flow at a busy Brighton Road junction takes place this summer.
Improvement works at the point where the A23 meets Old Lodge Lane outside Purley fire station are scheduled to start in June and may take until September to complete.
Members of the Hartley and District Residents' Association (HADRA) have been lobbying for improvement works for several years, but now claim Transport for London (TfL) is failing to keep them informed.
John Clarke, the group's planning member, said the junction was next to several schools, was used as a cut through for people travelling from Purley to Caterham, and already experienced a high level of congestion at peak times.
"I have written to TfL asking them to tell us what impact the road works will have on the area so we can make plans. A lot of traffic will have to take diversions," he said. "At the moment, it looks like Old Lodge Lane will be completely closed down, which will be a huge inconvenience, and we have no idea for how long. With a situation like this, we talk to TfL about the junction's problems – mainly that Old Lodge Lane is always congested and a nightmare for residents.
"Then someone comes down and draws up a proposal with very little consultation. They think they know the junction better than the local residents – it's been the same old process for three years. Now they are going to cause a disruption with road works. It's a major problem – if they close it, how will they direct traffic around it? It will cause chaos."
Mr Clarke said the group was waiting for TfL to make a decision on diversions so the area could prepare for them.
"They have told us work starts in June, other than that, they haven't said anything. We just hold our breath. It's often up to groups like us to find out what's going on and try to pre-empt a situation."
Kenley councillor and Croydon's assembly member, Steve O'Connell, said he had heard the work could go on until September, but that it would improve traffic flow in the long term.
He said: "Although sorting out Purley Cross may be a long way off, it's good to start sorting traffic problems near it. TfL are also suspending the bus lane between the junction and Purley Cross to ease the traffic, which is unprecedented."
A TfL spokesman said: "In order for these works to go ahead, it is necessary for utilities companies to divert some of their equipment on site. These works are planned to begin in June and we will be discussing with the local council and utility companies to agree how all of these works will be delivered with minimum disruption in the next few weeks."