After years of lobbying for more fixed river crossings, London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s go-ahead to the Silvertown Tunnel, along with the DLR extension and cycle bridge is hugely welcome news for London.
But it must not stop there.
These are just the first steps in a journey where we need to make giant leaps. It is no secret that London is growing. On current trends, the capital’s population will reach 10million by 2030, up from 8.6million today.
That would make the Greater London area a megacity. The majority of this growth is taking place in the east. However, despite almost half of London’s population living east of Tower Bridge, this area is currently served by just two fixed river crossings – compared to 22 crossings in the west.
If that growth is to be accommodated London needs the transport infrastructure to match it – and this is not enough of an answer. London businesses are well aware of the employee work time that is lost when the Rotherhithe and Blackwall tunnels are closed.
The lack of alternative routes regularly causes traffic diversions and travel delays, with significant costs for businesses. The Mayor’s commitment to Silvertown will help tackle these problems and is an important first step.
Original proposals focused on tackling the issue at hand – congestion – are needed. Now the focus has markedly shifted to give more weight to public transport and greener issues.
Of course a balance needs to be maintained and we are aware of the need to be mindful of pollution but even if we wake up tomorrow morning and all our vehicles were electric there would still be congestion.
There is a technological solution to many elements of pollution such as electrification and lower emission vehicles but this doesn’t apply as readily to congestion.
Silvertown alone is not, however, enough. East and south-east London need more fixed road crossings to support economic regeneration – delivering the homes, jobs and business opportunities our city needs.
The East London Chamber of Commerce welcomes the Mayor’s commitment to improved public transport links across the river, and improved use of the river.
The Mayor says he will use the river for the transportation of construction materials and that’s fantastic. A “cycle bus” sounds intriguing and they all have an integral role to play in regenerating underdeveloped and economically deprived communities and unlocking housing potential.
However, a balance needs to be struck. Businesses and residents rely upon efficient freight logistics to meet the demands of a modern 24/7 city.
Our restaurants, offices, shops, and tourist attractions could not operate without reliable access to the goods they need to meet the demands of their customers. Most of this comes by road.
New homes and offices cannot be built without the delivery of construction materials. As the population of east London and its hinterland increases over the next decade and the economy grows, traffic levels will also rise, and with it the demand for crossing points across the river.
These demands cannot be achieved without fixed road crossings, as well as improved public transport. As Transport for London itself has spelt out, vital delivery and servicing trips cannot be undertaken by public transport or entirely on the River Thames.
That is why proposals for road crossings at Gallions Reach and Belvedere should be front and centre of the Mayor’s package of new river crossings to the east, and cannot be kicked into the long grass.
The 5 crossings
- Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf cycle and pedestrian bridge.
- Canary Wharf to North Greenwich passenger ferry.
- Silvertown Tunnel road link next to Blackwall Tunnel between North Woolwich and North Greenwich.
- Extension of DLR at Gallions Reach to Thamesmead.
- Extension of Barking Riverside London Overground to Abbey Wood / Belveder e
We're finally getting the links we need
By Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse
The news from the Mayor’s Office that the plan for the proposed Canary Wharf to Rotherhithe Bridge is to be accelerated and now open in 2020 was warmly received.
The project, one I pledged to support, will serve residents, homes and businesses on both sides of the river.
A recent study estimated the new bridge would facilitate 13,000 free, healthy and environmentally clean journeys across the Thames every day.
With only one existing bridge east of Tower Bridge the plans to link residents of Tower Hamlets with our neighbours across the water reinforces the new Mayor’s commitment to development in east London.
Once built, the pedestrian and cyclists’ bridge will save commuters money and in turn ease congestion on DLR, tube and bus services.
Silvertown Tunnel amendments
Mayor Sadiq Khan also revealed his enhanced vision for the much-needed Silvertown Tunnel. It will not have gone unnoticed to residents and commuters using the Blackwall Tunnel, the increase in traffic disruption over recent years.
The plan would see the Silvertown project open in 2023 and recent amendments include the classification of the tunnel as a low emission bus zone, the expansion of bus routes and the inclusion of a bike-bus to transport cyclists through safely.
With further proposals still on the table such the Isle of Dogs to North Greenwich passenger ferry, hopes are high that east London is finally receiving the infrastructure funding our community needs to open up our vast economic potential.