TfL have vowed to press on with the Silvertown Tunnel today after a contractor opposing the decision to build the tunnel agreed to relent. That allows the £1 billion PFI project to toll Blackwall Tunnel and build Silvertown Tunnel to move ahead.
This news comes days after Greenwich Council did a 180 degree turn after years of support. They joined almost every other London borough in opposing or withdrawing support.
Only Tower Hamlets council now support – and they gain far more than Greenwich borough according to traffic projections given the Silvertown and Blackwall tunnel portals will be located on separate roads north of the Thames.
Greenwich will see many years of gridlock as construction gets underway. The Blackwall Tunnel will see regular closures in coming years for building work.
That will last for five years. But it’ll be worth it right?
Well, not really, as south of the Thames the new tunnel will feed into the existing road network already at capacity unlike the north. Greenwich borough and the town itself will see worsening congestion after 2025 according to TfL.
What’s funny is every advocate goes silent when this is brought up. They never have an answer and seem to only ever think of northbound traffic.
Southbound is just ignored. This clumsy illustration below shows why impacts will be so much greater south of the Thames. Two tunnels converge south of the river on existing roads.
TfL and Mayor Sadiq Khan seem resolute in forcing through the scheme and continue to push the same tired lines about reducing congestion.
As seen that only applies one way – heading north but not south. The net result is worse congestion across Greenwich borough with the A2 expected to be gridlocked each evening to an even greater extent.
On a daily basis traffic already backs up from Falconwood to Greenwich for around five miles. Another tunnel’s worth of traffic will be fed onto that.
That’ll mean solid queues for over five miles each afternoon or some radical building work down the line to widen roads which could see mass demolitions.
But let’s assume tolls put people off (except HGVs who could divert from Dartford where tolls already exist and cannot currently use Blackwall) then will we see more drivers head to Rotherhithe and Woolwich which will remain free to use?
If they do go via Rotherhithe to cross the river and save on a toll that’s more traffic through east Greenwich and Greenwich town centre. Not great given it’s slow going almost all day every day.
And what of the ferry? Greenwich Council have asked for it to be tolled if more traffic heads east.
So ultimately there’s very little benefit to Greenwich borough according to TfL themselves who are strong advocates. All the comments from Sadiq Khan seem only to apply to east London. That may be why all the soundbites mention east London and not south east London.
Those sitting in northbound queues right now may be happy thinking this will solve their problems – but their trip south in the afternoon will be worse.
The World Heritage site in Greenwich will see more traffic heading to Rotherhithe which is to remain free as things stand – and even people using the Woolwich Ferry will likely see tolls.
Who wins? No one south of the river. So why did Greenwich Council support for so many years until the last minute change of heart? They didn’t get a DLR crossing nor other road crossings at Thamesmead and Belvedere to stagger traffic across a number of crossings. All eggs are now in one basket.
The mitigation they received from TfL is pitiful and a fraction of what Greenwich Peninsula housing brings them despite hugely more impact. Promises of extra buses could boil down to just one additional route.
You know it’s bad when even the biggest supporter – TfL themselves – say there’s very little benefit south of the Thames and can only promise queues.
Greenwich Council have played and lost big. Now TfL will bury the area in years of disruption then years of permanent extra traffic after that – with tolls on top.
One local Greenwich Peninsula councillor and Cabinet member with air quality and transport brief – and who supported the scheme – is now looking to head east and become MP for Erith and Thamesmead.