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Crossing the Thames. The proposed Thames Barrier Bridge

Featured in the Future Transport London Newsletter September 2022

Crossing the Thames below Tower Bridge is becoming easier by rail but not if you are on foot. There are foot tunnels under the river at Greenwich and at Woolwich (as well as the free ferry there) but neither is pleasant to use, bicycles can only be wheeled, and the tunnels are even more unpleasant when any of the lifts at either end are out of service. A proposed foot and cycle bridge at Canary Wharf has been rules unaffordable.

But now a new 530-metre bridge for pedestrians and cyclists is proposed to cross the river by the Thames Barrier (see It would have several interesting features: a height of 15 metres above Spring Mean High Water so the ramps either side of the bridge would be accessible and easy to cycle or walk up and down. Larger ships (including cruise liners) pass through the Thames Barrier two to four times per day and can require 50 metres of headroom, so the proposed bridge would incorporate bascules – sections which swing open upwards, like the pair on Tower Bridge. The proposed new bridge, estimated to cost £300 million, would have several bascule pairs for flexibility and reliability. It would be located immediately either downstream or upstream of the Thames Barrier to minimise the impact on river navigation and flow.

The Thames Barrier Bridge would link two established and growing communities north and south of the river in the boroughs of Newham and Greenwich respectively. It would serve a vast development area delivering 70,000 new jobs and 55,000 new homes. London’s City Hall has recently been relocated to the Royal Docks in the vicinity. Five million pedestrians and one million cyclists per annum are forecast by consultants Steer (one of the promoters)to use the proposed bridge for journeys to work. Leisure travel would be additional to that number.

Another of the promoting companies is Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands who designed the Golden Jubilee footbridges either side of Charing Cross railway bridge. Crossing the Thames via either of those is far more pleasant (and accessible) than it was using the dilapidated, narrow old footbridge shaken alarmingly by each passing train.

Neil Roth

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