This weekend saw a new footbridge installed in Greenwich after a weekend closure of the Blackwall tunnel.
The new bridge replaces another structure a few metres away so additional lanes can be installed with the advent of the Silvertown tunnel.
Eight lanes of traffic will run below the new footbridge from 2025.
With news that it was going in and the prospect of Transport for London trying to put out their positive PR spin I thought I’d go and see the wider area.
Is it as bad as it was a year ago?
Course it is.
This is Tunnel Avenue and the approach to the west. A new hotel was built on the road with new housing approved nearby as well as previous recent developments such as River Gardens.
No investment seen here on the approach to bridge which links those homes to the o2 and North Greenwich tube station.
TfL’s Walking & Cycling Commissioner Will Norman has today lauded the new crossing. I’m guessing he has little idea of the wider area and approaches either side.
Both sides have atrocious public realm – and there’s no firm plan to improve that from Greenwich Council or TfL to encourage anyone to use the bridge.
The road surface is broken, paving is too, flooding occurs regularly and everything is coated in fine dust and ingrained rubbish.
You can however see the mysterious portal of Greenwich.
Crossover and you’re on Boord Street to the west of the A102. It’s no better.
This is Greenwich borough, so park where you like including on paving is not uncommon.
Flytipping. Lots of that too.
Clutter and obstacles blocking paths? We’ll have some of that.
The junction with Millennium Way is little better.
Guardrailing of course is everywhere. Vehicles first.
To the rear in the above image is St Mary Magdalene school which has 1,600 pupils. Beside that is a site where work on hundreds of homes has just commenced.
Again, not a penny of income given to Greenwich Council has been used by the authority to improve pedestrian and cycling connections to the bridge – either the existing or newly installed.
Transport for London pledged a small amount of mitigation funding for Greenwich borough due to the impact of Silvertown tunnel.
The total is small at below £1 million given its a £2.2 bn project. Previous announcements of funding did not mention approaches to the bridge.
A Travelodge hotel was approved in 2018 near the site and Greenwich planners allocated a small amount to Boord Street, but the hotel has never progressed.
Aside from that, a multitude of other developments have come and gone. No funds allocated to improve.
In the past some have said there’s an alternative. This is the alternative.
Not only is it less convenient than the bridge for some (if it was in anyway appealing to use) but it too is far from pedestrian and cyclist friendly.
So TfL may try to spin the new bridge as a benefit for pedestrians and cyclists, but the real reason it’s there is to accommodate a large road building project below whilst the bridge is no more usable or welcoming that the existing crossing given an abject failure to invest funds into both approaches.
A classic bit of greenwash in other words.
Until Transport for London firmly commit funding to mitigate Silvertown including this area and Greenwich contribute using income from a vast number of new developments in the area, it’s little more than a PR job.