Transport for London has not yet ruled out a tunnel or an enhanced ferry service between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf as an alternative to the proposed walking and cycling bridge.
TfL is pressing ahead with plans for a bridge, but says that next month’s public consultation on the scheme will also feature tunnel and boat options.
A report [PDF] on the proposed Rotherhithe crossing was considered by TfL’s programmes and investment committee last Friday.
Based on the work that has been done to date, TfL has provisionally
recommended that a navigable bridge should be investigated in greater detail, with the initial options assessment concluding:
(a) an enhanced ferry would be the lowest cost option and could be delivered
more quickly. It provides a positive Benefit: Cost Ratio (BCR) but, unlike a
fixed link crossing, it is unlikely to deliver a step-change in walking and
cycling accessibility, or realise significant wider economic benefits;
(b) a navigable bridge has a broadly comparable BCR to an enhanced ferry,
however, it would realise greater total benefits by providing a permanent link
to facilitate a transformational change in accessibility. This aligns more
strongly with developing policy and the scheme’s strategic objectives and,
further, a permanent link has the potential to realise significant wider
economic benefits which have not been quantified in the BCR at this stage. A
bridge has strong support amongst cycling groups, accessibility groups and
other stakeholders, particularly on the south side of the river, but concerns
remain over the need to open for shipping and the impact on residents in the
immediate vicinity; and
(c) a tunnel would offer similar benefits to a bridge and provide a more reliable transport connection, as it would not need to open for shipping. It would have lesser visual impact than a bridge, however, it may be seen as a less attractive environment for users and is forecast to cost significantly more, resulting in a lower BCR.
The report adds:
Work is now underway to investigate navigable bridge options in further detail and, as more information becomes available, the provisional selection will be refined and tested alongside the other options before a final decision is made on the solution for a new crossing.
Whilst the further investigations continue, it will be important not to dismiss other options until they have been considered as part of a public consultation.
Remarks by former TfL boss Sir Peter Hendy – commenting on the “pretty weak business case” for the Rotherhithe bridge – were recently made public as part of the evidence presented to Margaret Hodge’s review of the Garden Bridge.
At last week’s GLA Oversight Committee current TfL commissioner Mike Brown disassociated himself from his predecessor’s comments on the Rotherhithe scheme.