Photographs recently taken reveal the extent of building work now underway for Silvertown Tunnel.
The project – which will see tolls applied to Blackwall Tunnel alongside the new crossing – is somewhat ironically seeing construction work on the site of a planned new DLR station and 5,000-home development named Thameside West. These homes and related public transport improvements could be delayed given years of building work. A primary school is also planned on the development approved by the GLA last year.
Part of the planned DLR station, which is located on the Woolwich Arsenal branch, is to become an access road for construction. Other work is underway across the site in preparation for tunnel boring machines which are due to commence in 2022.
When I first noticed construction here I thought it was the new housing scheme underway given the tunnel emerges north closer to the future home of the Greater London Authority – until checking plans more closely and realising Silvertown work covers a very wide area.
This photo below shows the proximity to the Crystal building. The tunnel portal will be situated just south of the elevated road and some way from the site of piling:
Preparations for the £2 billion tunnel have also seen a number of trees removed quite some distance away towards Canning Town. A three-tier distribution depot is also planned nearby and is reliant upon the tunnel.
South of the Thames in Greenwich a number of plans to fell trees, as covered a number of times on this site, will see over 120 lost. In addition, work on sizable new car and coach parks in Greenwich – again on the site of planned housing now halted – is underway.
In recent weeks TfL have not committed to a fee for tolls. They are promising bus routes – though since the tunnel plan was drawn up the number of planned homes in Greenwich, Charlton and Kidbrooke has grown far beyond expected levels. Whether new bus routes will be anything but slow given a forecasted increase in congestion in many areas of Greenwich borough away from the tunnel entrance/exit remains to be seen.
Kidbrooke and Eltham are due to see longer queues which could impact on bus journey times. In addition. the forecasts for increased congestion were made before updated masterplans and recent development submissions and approvals which will see 8,000 homes in Charlton, 20,000 across Greenwich Peninsula and 6,000+ in Kidbrooke.
The tunnel is to see a total of £200 million in public money spent on preparations. The private Riverlinx consortium will fund the main £2 billion construction cost and recoup expenditure via tolls. This offers the possibility of conflicts of interest in years to come. Riverlinx will require a set level of traffic to recoup costs. Measures which attempt to limit congestion in Greenwich could in turn hurt Riverlinx – so will this ensure south east London remains liable for congestion for decades to come? North of the Thames congestion is not expected to be so bad – as Blackwall and Silvertown tunnel entrance/exits are some way apart, while in Greenwich they both feed into the same existing road network.
Many thanks to Kevin Hales for these photographs offering a great insight into the worksite.