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Roads to Nowhere

What's wrong with new roads to the east of Tower Bridge?

New roads crossing the River Thames between east and southeast London will cause more problems than they could ever solve.

No New Roads 

When a new road is built, new traffic will divert onto it. Many people may make new trips they would otherwise not make, and will travel longer distances. This well-known and long-established effect is known as ‘induced traffic’. Induced traffic means that the predicted congestion benefits of a new road are often quickly eroded. The phenomenon of induced traffic has been observed by transport professionals repeatedly since 1925 and recent authoritative reviews have confirmed that induced traffic is still beating forecasts on new roads across the country.

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Silvertown Tunnel

The Silvertown Tunnel is promoted as responding to increasing population, existing demand for river crossings and providing economic benefit. The scheme has serious problems that undermine this rationale:

  • increases in traffic, including heavy goods, would blight parts of Greenwich, Newham and Tower Hamlets with the environmental costs of new road building and induced demand
  • instead of 'relieving' the Blackwall Tunnel, the approach roads to the south would be shared with it, creating increased demand on existing roads, moving the congestion somewhere else, as well as increasing noise and air pollution
  • there is no economic benefit to the Greenwich peninsula, which is in need of new public transport to keep up with 10,000 new homes that are planned to be built there

The scheme is projected to cost £750 million. This money could be much better spent on providing pedestrian and cycling links between the Greenwich peninsula and Canary Wharf.

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Gallions Reach Crossing

The Gallions Reach Crossing is a replacement scheme for the Thames Gateway Bridge, a project that was cancelled in 2008 following a planning inquiry which resulted in a report that recommended refusal of planning permission. The scheme is promoted as providing economic benefit to the local area, facilitating regeneration, and encouraging pedestrians and cycling. The 2007 planning inspector report highlighted serious problems with the scheme, including:

  • it would cause increased congestion, and is an unsuitable crossing for pedestrians and cyclists
  • air and noise pollution would be made worse 
  • there is no evidence that regeneration and economic improvement would result from it

This renamed £600 million scheme would fail to provide any local benefit and would condemn the area to increased traffic congestion and pollution. 

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Belvedere Crossing

The Belvedere Crossing is intended to 'plug' one of the longest gaps between crossings on the River Thames in London. However, this part of east and south-east London is as lacking in public transport river connections as it is roads. The scheme is intended to connect people to workplaces and improve the local economy. Although at the early stages of planning, the report published by Transport for London has already identified several potential problems:

  • the local road network will become congested with new traffic
  • traffic pollution and noise would increase
  • negative impact on the Crossness Nature Reserve and Rainham Marsh sites

The scheme is set to cost £900 million and could cause environmental and economic damage to an area that is lacking in good quality public transport access.

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