FRI, JUN 21, 2019
Says project could be replaced by a ‘fast ferry’
A proposed walking and cycling bridge across the Thames between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf has been ‘paused’ after costs escalated. Deputy Mayor for transport, Heidi Alexander, said that the project had now become unaffordable.
Last year 93 per cent of respondents to a consultation supported plans for a new Thames crossing for people on bike and foot, with 85 per cent in favour of Transport for London’s (TfL) favoured option of a navigable bridge.
Details subsequently emerged of a proposal to construct the world’s tallest vertical lift bridge.
Support for the bridge was included in Sadiq Khan’s manifesto at the 2016 mayoral election, but Alexander said that the current midpoint cost estimate for the scheme was £463m and potentially over £600m.
TfL allocated £350m in its business plan.
A spokesperson for the Mayor said: “While the Mayor is investing hundreds of millions of pounds enabling more walking and cycling in East London, the estimated cost of this project has now increased to around half a billion pounds.
“TfL have used all of their expertise to try and lower the costs of a viable new bridge at this site, but it would now cost substantially more than the money allocated in the Business Plan. Pausing work is now the sensible and responsible thing to do to protect the London taxpayer.
“TfL are now exploring options for a new fast ferry at the site that can be used by cyclists and pedestrians, and we continue to use the record amounts being invested in Healthy Streets to make walking and cycling easier and safer across the capital.”
Responding to the news, chair of the London Assembly transport committee, Florence Eshalomi, told SE16.com: “This announcement will be hugely disappointing for Southwark residents who have been enthusiastically supportive of TfL’s plans for the crossing.
“With such a major infrastructure project now on hold, which would be vital to boosting our local economy and opening up our city’s transport links to cyclists and pedestrians, I will be writing to TfL, alongside local councillors, to ask for answers on how the projected costs have risen so significantly.
“This a financial decision, so it must also be remembered that TfL have been placed in an incredibly difficult situation with the Government taking the reckless decision to remove £700 million a year on average from their budget. As result, TfL has now become one of the only transport authorities in the world not to receive a Government operational grant for day-to-day running costs.”