London spent £14 million on Thames bridge that may never get built

Around £14 million was spent on a London bridge that may never be built, it has been revealed.

Plans were set out for a bridge across the Thames between Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe a few years ago but were put on hold in 2019.

The bridge would have provided a new connection between North and South London for walkers and cyclists.

Transport for London spent £14 million of taxpayer’s money on consulting and design for the scheme that is now frozen.

TfL had originally planned to build the biggest drawbridge in the world. Around £350 million was set aside by TfL to spend on the scheme in 2019.

The 180 metre-long bridge would have been raised 90 metres into the air to let large ships go past.

However, it soon became clear that the bridge would have cost at least £463 million, and could even have gone up to as much as £600 million.

TfL estimates said that continuing the plans could have cost £800,000 every month, so the scheme was thrown out.

A ferry service in the same spot on the Thames is now being considered instead – many nearby spots have docks to get commuters across the river or along it.

But a local opposition councillor argued that TfL should have come to the conclusion sooner.

Andrew Wood, Independent-Conservative councillor for Canary Wharf, said: “Mayor Sadiq Khan should have asked TfL engineers first what the best solution was to improving cross river connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists, rather than telling them in advance it had to be a bridge.

“£14 million has been spent before the Mayor realised that building the longest raised span bridge in the world might cost more than could be afforded.

“This money should have been invested in providing three new ferries at this crossing, which would have cost around £30 million”.

TfL said that despite the bridge never going ahead, the £14 million spent on design would allow the plans to be used in future if necessary.

The GLA said in a response to an FOI request: “At the point the decision was made to pause work, around £14m had been spent on the project.

“This has allowed development of a high quality design, operational concept and construction methodology that can be used at a later date should funding options enable a bridge option to be progressed.”

TfL and the mayor of London’s office were both contacted for comment.


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