Friday, 7 October 2016

London River Crossings

Sadiq Khan recently gave the green light to three new river crossings across the Thames in East London. The Mayor’s plans include the controversial Silvertown tunnel as well as a “greener” pedestrian and cycling bridge and an extension of the DLR. He argued that the controversial new road tunnel was needed to support economic growth and a massive house-building programme. 

In a bid to head off a row with environmental campaigners, he approved the pedestrian bridge linking Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf and the Docklands Light Railway from Gallions Reach towards Thamesmead.
There was an increased focus on more environmentally friendly public transport crossings as he announced Transport for London would also look at extending the London Overground between Barking Riverside and Abbey Wood, and a ferry from North Greenwich to the Isle of Dogs. In addition, Mr Khan said he had made improvements to Boris Johnson’s original proposal for the four-lane motorway linking the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks under the Thames. These included new green bus routes through the tunnel, a bespoke “bike bus” to carry cyclists on demand, and improvements for pedestrians and bikes on both sides. But even with his environmental tweaks, the Mayor’s plans for the Silvertown tunnel still ran into opposition from green groups and local campaigners who claimed it would worsen air quality. 

 Crossing the Thames via the Emirates Air Line. Commuters have shunned
 this method of transport leaving it as an expensive tourist attraction
Green Assembly member Caroline Russell said: “New roads attract new traffic, pollute the air and are incredibly expensive so it’s extremely disappointing that the Mayor is pushing ahead with the Silvertown tunnel, a dinosaur project he inherited from Boris Johnson.” However, Mr Khan said: “It’s no secret that London has long needed more river crossings in the East. With new homes and economic growth across East London, it becomes even more important that we deliver new greener transport links that allow Londoners to cross the river quickly and more easily. “As we continue to unlock the massive economic potential of East London, we must secure the very best transport infrastructure that improves the quality of life for everyone living and working in the area.” The Silvertown tunnel is intended to cater for growing demand and to ease big traffic jams that build up at the neighbouring Blackwall Tunnel. Under the plans it would open in 2023 and be funded by a toll, with local residents expected to get a discount.
However, Mr Khan will face questions over how he expects to pay for the three new crossings at a time when TfL is facing cuts and also needs to fund the Mayor’s fares freeze. The Silvertown tunnel alone is expected to cost in the region of £1 billion. City Hall claimed the majority of funding would come from developer contributions and through existing community infrastructure levies. But London Tory transport spokesman Keith Prince said there was a “worrying lack of detail” over funding. “Sadiq Khan’s fare freeze and other ill-advised policies have left TfL’s finances in dire straits – there is no back up funding for these vital transport links, which puts them on pretty weak foundations.” Business groups welcomed the announcement. London Chamber of Commerce chief Colin Stanbridge said: “The need to improve the capital’s transport infrastructure is central to London’s future economic development and success.”