Transport for London today opened a new consultation on plans to build a new road tunnel under the Thames, at the other side of the Greenwich peninsula to the Blackwall Tunnel. (Ironically, it's almost the same route as the cable car.)
The location isn't an accident: the proposed tunnel between Silvertown and the peninsula is partly aimed at easing congestion at Blackwall, notorious for its jams. This would mean both tunnels having their southern ends in Greenwich. TfL believes charging to use both the Blackwall and Silvertown tunnels would discourage an increase in traffic — something needs to be done, definitely, since TfL's modelling predicts that without a charge more vehicles would end up using both of them than currently use Blackwall. Which would defeat the whole object.
However, campaigners believe there will be more congestion anyway, charge or no charge, because of the 'induced traffic' effect. They're also extremely concerned about the effects on local air quality and economy. No To Silvertown Tunnel chair Nikki Coates said:
We know all too well how difficult it is to cross the river. But building a new road will only make the situation worse. It’ll concentrate even more traffic and pollution around Canary Wharf and the Blackwall approaches — particularly in the evening — and generate extra jams elsewhere as other drivers avoid tolls by switching to the Rotherhithe Tunnel.
Green mayoral candidate Sian Berry is also against the tunnel, saying there are other options.
Building new roads and creating more traffic is the last thing London needs. If elected I’ll cancel these plans and invest in ways of getting more people across the river, on foot and bikes and public transport. We have seen all too clearly the failure of manufacturers to clean up vehicles and cut the pollution we are forced to breathe every day. I would put a stop to this huge mistake and provide the kind of transport people really want in south and east London.
We all agree that east London needs more river crossings, but are road tunnels and bridges the way forward? Or should we be investing in more public transport, and pedestrian and cycle bridges, to 'evaporate' existing traffic?