£61m ‘wasted’ on Thames River crossing studies, London Assembly’s Darren Johnson claims

Thames river crossing at Gallions Reach and [inset] London Assembly's Darren Johnson

Thames river crossing at Gallions Reach and [inset] London Assembly's Darren Johnson - Credit: TfL+Darren Johnson

Shock figures reveal £1.1 million has been spent by City Hall on its River Crossing team’s wages bill since 2012, paying out £46,000 every month to look at options for a new Thames river crossing to relieve the A12 Blackwall Tunnel.

Around £43 million has already been paid out by Transport for London in the past 15 years on feasibility studies and consultations and set to reach £61m by 2018 — even before the first brick or iron girder is laid.

The cash is being paid by Transport for London to make the case for new crossings between Silvertown and Beckton, London Assembly member Darren Johnson has discovered.

“They are frittering away shocking sums of public money on fanciful plans for new trunk roads in east London,” the Green Party member said.

“The Mayor of London is trying to tackle traffic jams by building new roads—because his pro-car policies have pushed people back into private vehicles.”

TfL insists a crossing is urgently needed because of east London’s growing population.

The authority’s planning director Michèle Dix told the Newham Recorder: “The level of congestion we see at the Blackwall Tunnel today will get worse if we don’t improve facilities, and the economy of east London will be affected.”

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Consultations in 2014 for the Silvertown crossing received 11,000 responses with “the overwhelming majority” supporting it, City Hall claims.

Current proposals include three crossings east of Tower Bridge, at Silvertown, Gallions Reach and further out at Belvedere linking Barking to the other side of the Thames, all including new public transport as well as vehicles.

The £61m cash being paid out by TfL up to 2018 is for extensive design, planning and consultation work.

But Darren Johnson insists the plans “are doomed to fail” and is calling for City Hall to invest in more public transport such as trams, expanding the DLR across east London and extending the Overground.

He added: “New roads just bring new traffic, noise and pollution and make congestion worse.”

New data shows £12m has been set aside by TfL for the Silvertown Tunnel planning application, after £5m was spent up to the end of 2014 on consultations, feasibility studies and unspecified “other activities to progress the work”.

The tally over the past 15 years includes £31m between 2000 and 2004 on the Thames Gateway bridge that was never built, £1.1m in 2008 looking at the Silvertown scheme, £10.6m in 2014 on preparation work, design studies and public consultations on a Silvertown tunnel and £12m up to 2018 on a Development Consent Order application.