Plans for the £1bn Silvertown Tunnel, a new road-based Thames crossing linking the Greenwich Peninsula with the Royal Docks, have been unveiled today.
Transport for London (TfL) has suggested the new crossing, which would support the Blackwall Tunnel, could start construction in 2018 and be open by 2022/23.
It would save £1.3bn over 60 years based on projected rises in London’s population and time lost waiting in traffic, according to TfL. Currently congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel creates two-mile tailbacks during peak periods, regularly adding around 25 minutes to journey times.
TfL said the new crossing, which has been designated as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and so can only be authorised by a Development Consent order (DCO) made by the secretary of state, would also be open to double-decker buses.
Map from TfL
TfL plans to roll out two new bus routes and four enhanced routes through the tunnel, providing up to 37 buses per hour in each direction.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP said: 'Delivering a host of new river crossings to the east is essential for the future success and prosperity of a growing capital city like ours. They have the power to unlock areas for development, creating jobs and new homes, as well as helping to better connect people, businesses and communities.
‘The Silvertown Tunnel is a hugely important piece of new infrastructure that would provide a new link beneath the Thames from two of our city's great opportunity areas for new homes and jobs - Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks.'
Charges for the tunnel would be used to recoup the cost of the project and would apply from 6am until 10pm every day, including Bank Holidays. The price would vary between peak and off-peak and would be collected automatically using systems similar to the Congestion Charge.
TfL has proposed THAT roughly the same discounts and exemptions for the London Congestion Charging zone apply to the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels.
Road layout changes
TfL has revealed that on the south side of the river, there would be changes to the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road, with road widening to create space for the Silvertown Tunnel Approach lane and a new flyover for southbound traffic from the Blackwall Tunnel to cross above the Silvertown Tunnel Approach lanes.
New approach lanes to the Silvertown Tunnel would also remove the need for traffic to merge from three lanes to two on the approach to the Blackwall Tunnel thus saving major delays.
On the north side of the river, TfL would modify the existing Tidal Basin Roundabout to connect the Silvertown Tunnel approach roads with Dock Road and the Lower Lea Crossing, and it would realign the Dock Road so it links with the modified roundabout. There would also new pedestrian and cycle facilities within the modified roundabout.
TfL estimates that by 2031 ‘delays on the approach to the tunnel would be virtually eliminated’.
However others disagree, suggesting creating greater road space just encourages more traffic.
Transport expert, John Elliott, who has presented evidence to MPs arguing against the tunnel, told Transport Network: ‘You can’t solve congestion in London without road charging and public transport. I honestly believe we need a London-wide, network integration strategy.’
He added that he expected the areas each side to see more traffic as a result of tunnel.
‘We will get more congestion; if you relieve it as Blackwall it will just go elsewhere,’ he added.
Mr Elliott did concede that there was an argument for resilience by creating another tunnel but suggested that Silvertown was the wrong place and the planned crossing at Belvedere should have been first.
The Silvertown scheme is one of a suite of options for more river crossings over the Thames in the fast growing eats London area. TfL said it will continue to develop plans for new river crossings at Gallions Reach and Belvedere, to the east of the Silvertown Tunnel, with a consultation on the schemes to be held at the end of November.
The closing date for comments on Silvertown is 29 November 2015. Interested parties can fill out a questionnaire here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposals for exemptions from the charge:
· Emergency services vehicles
· NHS vehicles exempt from vehicle tax
· Vehicles which are exempt from paying road tax as they are used by disabled people
· Military vehicles
· ‘Non-road mobile machinery’, such as industrial equipment not intended to carry passengers or goods
Subject a 100% discount:
· Recovery and accredited breakdown vehicles
· Buses and coaches
· Blue Badge holders
· Low emission vehicles
· Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles · Vehicles used in the provision of particular public services, for example refuse lorries