What exactly is wrong with this proposal? Tony Fairbairn is a local campaigner in Bexley and he has been looking at the scheme.
The Belvedere Crossing might not be getting as much publicity as the schemes proposed at Silvertown and Gallions Reach, but the threat is just as real. In fact the bridge or tunnel is currently projected to be the most expensive of the three projects proposed for east and south-east London. Apart from the problems that are typical of new roads schemes – the induced demand causing increase congestion and pollution – this scheme has three major flaws.
The road network in Belvedere will not be able to cope with traffic for the bridge connecting with the A2. There are steep and narrow inclines on Picardy Road, Gladeswood Road, Upper Park Road, Heron Hill and Brook Street. Meanwhile Bexley Road in Northumberland Heath and Nuxley Road are busy shopping streets unsuited to increased traffic that would be created.
24 hour on street parking is a feature of many roads in the area as many houses are without off road parking or garages. Commuters using Belvedere station have to make use of these streets for parking as there is no station car park. In some places there are roads without pavements on both sides that will become dangerous for pedestrians as traffic levels increase.
At Erith, around one mile from the proposed bridge is a major junction that at peak times is already unable to cope with exiting traffic congestion. The introduction of a new crossing of the river would make this problem worse and extend the hours that traffic is at a standstill. Furthermore, around 12,000 new homes are proposed within a mile of the bridge. This could bring an additional 17,000 vehicles to the area, putting further strain on the local road network.
Even traffic moving off the bridge to go east or west along the A2016 will quickly meet existing congestion problems at the Plumstead one-way system and at Erith Fish Roundabout. The building of the bridge could create new problems elsewhere on the road network or make existing problems worse.
There are eight schools on the routes between the bridge and the A2. There are safety concerns about increased congestion, especially at the beginning and end of the school day. Increased traffic at these locations will also cause increased pollution.
The area is downwind from Central London and already suffers from air pollution incidents. In the vicinity are the refinement works from the Southern Outfall Sewer and the Beckton sewage works. At Belvedere is the largest incinerator in Europe, sitting just opposite from some the heaviest-use industrial land in London around the Fords site. Additionally, the area is in the flight path of London City Airport.
Poor quality consultation
Transport for London believe local residents support the bridge based on a consultation with a small sample size. They have not offered alternatives or asked for opinions on new transport connections such as extending the DLR, District line, London Overground, or making new connections between the National Rail lines which are their closest on either side of the river.
It is unclear how Bexley Council can defend their decision to support this crossing when they so vigorously rejected the Gallions Crossing (then known as the Thames Gateway Bridge). The business case for the bridge just doesn’t stack up with Transport for London making claims they cannot support.