Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London have halted work on the proposed walking and cycling bridge across the Thames at Rotherhithe after costs escalated.

Support for the bridge was included in Mr Khan’s manifesto at the 2016 mayoral election but the project has now been dropped.

News of the policy change was revealed in a letter from Heidi Alexander, deputy mayor for transport, to Florence Eshalomi, chair of the London Assembly transport committee.

“While the Mayor is investing hundreds of millions of pounds enabling more walking and cycling in East London, the estimated cost of this project has now increased to around half a billion pounds,” said a spokesman for the Mayor.

“TfL have used all of their expertise to try and lower the costs of a viable new bridge at this site, but it would now cost substantially more than the money allocated in the Business Plan. Pausing work is now the sensible and responsible thing to do to protect the London taxpayer.

“TfL are now exploring options for a new fast ferry at the site that can be used by cyclists and pedestrians, and we continue to use the record amounts being invested in Healthy Streets to make walking and cycling easier and safer across the capital.”

Last month we reported that TfL was trying to cut the cost of the scheme.

Responding to the news, Florence Eshalomi AM said: “This announcement will be hugely disappointing for Southwark residents who have been enthusiastically supportive of TfL’s plans for the crossing.

“With such a major infrastructure project now on hold, which would be vital to boosting our local economy and opening up our city’s transport links to cyclists and pedestrians, I will be writing to TfL, alongside local councillors, to ask for answers on how the projected costs have risen so significantly.

“This a financial decision, so it must also be remembered that TfL have been placed in an incredibly difficult situation with the Government taking the reckless decision to remove £700 million a year on average from their budget. As result, TfL has now become one of the only transport authorities in the world not to receive a Government operational grant for day-to-day running costs”.

Southwark Council leader Peter John tweeted: “We will be challenging TfL on this proposed decision and asking tough questions about why a Mayoral pledge can so easily be cast aside.”

6 thoughts on “Mayor and TfL halt work on ‘unaffordable’ Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf bridge

  1. The Canada Water Master plan must be frozen until transport is sorted out. Without major transport enhancements including the bridge this project cannot go ahead because local transport is already saturated.

    I struggle to believe these costings and think they are open to question. They seem completely out of proportion. I submitted a Freedom of Information request on costings for all options to TfL a couple of weeks ago. We cannot allow affordability to be used as an excuse for not proceeding if figures not credible.

    I suspect that they are so concerned about cost over run that their contingency allowance has become completely disproportionate. I believe the “optimism bias” alone is 50%. This looks more like a project prevention mechanism.

    • The Garden Bridge started off with an estimated cost of £65 million, I think, final estimate was £200 million for a much simpler & shorter bridge.
      This bridge would be the largest cycling & pedestrian bridge in the world and the longest lifting span bridge in the world with a span of 180 meters.
      But they know that if they did spend £600 million and fewer people ended up using it then predicted it would not be good especially as the total Healthy Streets budget in London over 4 years is £1.4 billion and building this bridge would mean other schemes being cancelled or delayed.
      It would appear that neither Southwark nor Tower Hamlets Council offered any money to help pay for this despite their protestations.
      As a reminder TfL in 2017 cancelled the purchase of an additional 10 Jubilee line trains saying they did not need them!

  2. OH YAY!!! A fast “new ferry”.. Oh wait, we already have TWO! We need a walking and cycling bridge please, something to ease our air pollution, road and tube station congestion, something that doesn’t cost us a fortune to use! Completely agree with Richards comments, increasing the population here without improvement to transport is unsustainable. A bridge might be costly in the short term but the long term benefits to the community (health, environment, finance, business) must outweigh this.

    • I asked TfL in 2016 to make the Hilton hotel ferry free to use as a test of demand, they refused. I asked them again on Friday.
      The proposed new ferries (up to 3) would be electric roll on roll off ferries for bikes and pedestrians with new access routes not though the hotel. TfL said they would be free to use in the 2017 consultation.
      For pedestrians on a winters night they would be superior option for many people then walking across an 800 meter long bridge which would have to occassionally close to allow larger vessels through.

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  4. Very sad about the decision. I don’t understand how we got to the situation from the vital, affordable, sustainable and eye pleasing bridge to the point of too expensive and not environmental. I am hoping it is not one person in Canary Wharf with agenda who killed the project because suspiciously it follows the news of Canary Wharf Group not supporting the project.

    Finance is always an issue and it is a card that can be played at any time. I agree, it does seem like someone tried to overinflate the figures to make it seem uneconomical. The same thing with the environmental argument. How is the bridge that would easily outlast 3-4 generations not environmental? The question is how badly the bridge is needed. I think it is very much needed. With the population surge, some kind of new link between North and South is crucial.

    I agree with the comment about what the Canada Water Plan brings. Maybe the Mayor Sadiq Khan should try to board the Jubilee train at Canada Water at peak time. It is a bloodbath. Waiting time is around 10-15 minutes and it will increase with the population rise (5100 new homes, increasing population by >15,000 people, >60% increase overall) following the redevelopment. The project should not be allowed to go ahead until they sort out the transport issues. Let’s not also forget that the bridge will serve the entire South and North London communities (not only Rotherhithe and Surrey Quays).

    If it does not get built now, it is very unlikely to ever happen. The proposed areas are going to be even more developed in future, leaving no space for the bridge.

    Having a new and improved ferry is better than nothing. It works quite well in the cities like Amsterdam. But I still think the bridge is far better investment into the future.

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