Boris - new crossings "great news" for east London
Long-awaited new river crossings in east London moved closer after the Government pledged to work with Boris Johnson on exploring options including a tunnel linking North Greenwich and Silvertown.
The Mayor hailed Chancellor George Osborne's pledge yesterday to invest billions in London's infrastructure as "great news".
But despite the promise made in the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, the capital's commuters will still have to wait several years before the links are built.
Speaking to The Wharf, Mr Johnson said: "This is great news, especially for east London. I can't give a timetable on when the crossing will be built but we can now move ahead and get it done as soon as possible. It's all part of a package of crossings we are looking at.
"This is an argument we have been making for the last three years. London is the motor of the economy and infrastructure investment is vital to that continuing. We've got to get people working and the best way of doing that is to have these kinds of projects.
"It's an important day for London and I'm pleased the Chancellor has listened to a lot of what we have been saying to him."
Mr Johnson denied the Silvertown crossing, a tunnel which will also be known as Blackwall 2, would have a negative impact on the Emirates Air Line cable car being built between North Greenwich and the Royal Docks.
He said: "Blackwall 2 will be complimentary to the cable car. It will be a much bigger piece of infrastructure and people mover, whereas the cable car will be like a good bus route. But we still need the cable car."
Three possible sites have been identified for further crossings, and the Thames Gateway Bridge at Gallions Reach may be revived, although Mr Johnson said it would be nowhere near the scale of the project he scrapped when he was elected in 2008.
He defended that decision, while there is little detail on the cost of new crossings.
"I don't want to get into facts and figures," said Mr Johnson.
"We don't need something on the scale of the Thames Gateway Bridge, which took up far too much space and would have cost too much. This will be something a lot less grand."
Also on the agenda is a debate about the proposed Thames Estuary Airport, a scheme Mr Johnson has supported for some time. Commuters will also see fares increase by six per cent, rather than seven per cent, after the Government said it would give TfL £132million to cap rises. The new fares won't be known until later this month.
Mr Johnson's Barclays Bike Hire scheme is set to extend to Canary Wharf and east London next year, at a cost of £45million. Despite making substantial losses in its first year Mr Johnson defended the scheme and hinted that further sponsorship could be found to supplement the £25million from Barclays.
He said: "It's great for London and I'm glad we've been able to defray the costs with commercial investment. There are other things we are working on with it, but I'd rather keep my powder dry on that."