Saturday, January 19, 2013

River Crossings Consultation - your views are needed!

Transport for London are currently seeking your views on proposed crossings over the River Thames in the east of London. Obviously they've already built the one shown above, so this focusses on road tunnels and bridges.

I'd encourage you to have a read of the proposals and submit a response. Mine is along the following lines (the numbering is based on the numbering of TfL's proposals):

1.     A new road tunnel between Silvertown and the Greenwich peninsula;

My view is that what is effectively a third bore of the Blackwall tunnel would be extremely damaging to the local area and would do nothing to ease congestion. Encouraging more traffic to use the A102 and A2 would, in my view, be counter-productive and will, in the long term, do nothing to reduce congestion in south-east London. It is well known that road building encourages traffic and the new tunnel will make bottlenecks at Kidbrooke and Eltham - where the A102 and A2 have only two lanes in each direction - worse.

The area has long suffered from poor air quality, and indeed the GLA’s own report shows that poor air quality accounted for up to 150 deaths across Greenwich borough alone in 2008, and any road-building will only make this worse. Pollution is already unacceptably high along the A102 and A2, particularly at the Woolwich Road flyover, Kidbrooke interchange and at Eltham station. The Woolwich Road flyover is already one of the most polluted spots in London.  This can only get worse, along with the congestion, as the new tunnel gets busier. 

2.      A new ferry at Woolwich to replace the existing service;

I would support this as a possibility.

3.     A new vehicle ferry at Gallions Reach running between Thamesmead and Beckton by 2017;
4.     A new bridge or tunnel at Gallions Reach by around 2031 if a ferry does not address needs;
5.     A new bridge or tunnel at Gallions Reach, not before 2021, instead of a ferry;

Taking the three options related to Gallions Reach together, it is my view that the best of these options would be to build a new bridge there, provided that this includes public transport (bus access) and proper cycling and pedestrian facilities. In addition to this, a rail or DLR link across to Thamesmead from either Barking or Dagenham is essential to the regeneration of the Thamesmead area.

6.     A toll for any new crossings and the Blackwall Tunnel to pay for the proposals and help to manage traffic.

This option is completely misguided. Any tolling of the Blackwall Tunnel will simply push drivers towards the Rotherhithe tunnel – a tunnel which is the least safe in the country and is wholly unsuitable for the levels of traffic it currently suffers, let alone any more. It is my view that tolls should be removed from the Dartford crossing and time should be given to assess the impact of doing this on traffic at the Blackwall tunnel. It may well be that this offers some relief from congestion as there will no longer be an incentive to avoid tolls by heading into the Blackwall tunnel rather than remaining on the M25 and crossing at Dartford, or indeed by heading out to Dartford at the start of a journey.

If you feel as strongly as I do about the proposals for the Silvertown tunnel then I'd encourage you to sign the petition at and let TfL know that, but do respond to the consultation as well. The consultation closes on 1st February.

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