TfL and Bexley Council want to build new tolled road bridges across the Thames at Gallions Reach and Belvedere.
As you can see from the sketches, these won't be cozy little bridges for local traffic:
The Belvedere crossing
will be 4 lanes and more akin to an urban motorway, and the Gallions Reach crossing
may well - depending on which option TfL chooses - be much the same.
Both crossings will be linked into trunk roads - by large roundabouts or motorway-style junctions -
in such a way that long distance traffic from Kent - including HGVs - will certainly be
encouraged to pass through Bexley, Belvedere and Thamesmead to cross the Thames. On the
other hand, what local traffic does use the bridges simply add to congestion on
many local roads within Belvedere and Bexleyheath. There are no proposals
for how these local roads will accomodate this extra traffic.
There are no proposals for how local roads will accomodate extra traffic from the crossings
These pictures show typical congestion on the Dartford crossing. History shows that
building roads invariably induces extra traffic as people change their travel habits to use the new
road capacity. These traffic jams are what could happen in Belvedere and Thamesmead if the bridges are built.
Is this the reality of what Bexley Council and TFL want: two bridges bringing congestion, pollution and chaos?
Roads, Roads, Roads
This is in addition to the proposed Silvertown road crossing and the Government's plans to build the Lower Dartford road crossing.
If all these crossings are built, then East of Greenwich there will be no less than 6 road crossings as well as the Woolwich ferry for people to make orbital North-South journeys by car. Yet there won't be a single heavy rail crossing suitable for North-South journeys.
6 crossings and a ferry for cars and HGVs. Heavy rail: NOTHING for orbital journeys
(DLR routes for short journeys)
Compare how many road and how few rail options will be available to make North-South journeys across the Thames if
TfL and the Government get their way and all the crossings are built...
This insane focus on road-building and neglect of public transport will be disastrous for people living in Bexley and neighbouring areas: It's likely to cause a significant mode-shift from public transport to private cars, which will massively increase congestion, vastly
slowing many people's journeys within Bexley and Greenwich - to say nothing of the increased pollution damaging everyone's health. How much of the congestion at the Dartford crossing is caused by
the lack of public transport alternatives there?
How much of the congestion at the Dartford crossing is caused by
the lack of public transport alternatives there?
We believe this madness has to stop. TfL, Bexley Council, neighbouring councils, and the politicians need to start thinking seriously about
the need to build transport infrastructure in a way that promotes rail, bus, walking and cycling. That way, more people can travel in ways that
are healthier and don't cause congestion and pollution for others, and those who still need to travel by car can do so more quickly
on roads that are less busy.
This road-building madness has to stop
What TfL are Planning
Two road crossings would be built at Gallions Reach and Belvedere, as shown on this map. TfL
are currently asking for people's views on the crossings, here.
TfL are considering building both crossings as either bridges or tunnels (the bridge
options are shown in the pictures on this page)
Until recently, TfL were proposing to build both crossings as road-only, but in their most
recent consultation, they are offering the option to include either a new DLR line or a new tram line
on the Gallions Reach crossing. We believe this addition is welcome, but it is only an option,
alongside the option to build it as road-only. And even if TfL do take up this option,
it doesn't change the basic problem that the overall focus of their plans is (perhaps unintentionally)
too heavily geared towards encouraging
private car use, as well as encouraging more HGVs into London.
The Belvedere crossing remains a 4-lane road-only crossing in any event.
Each bridge would be roughly the size of the Dartford Bridge (give or take a metre or two).
And each could easily attract traffic and congestion to match.
Both crossings would be tolled, which TfL claim will control demand, but the proposed toll
levels are lower than those for the Dartford Crossing - and we've all seen how the tolls
there do not prevent massive congestion. Crucially also, the proposed tolls will for
much of the day be less than the cost of short bus or rail journeys.
These pictures on this page give some idea of how much land will be taken to build the bridges, and the huge junctions at their ends, designed to allow
heavy lorries and other long distance traffic through parts of Bexley that include residential areas.
Why do Bexley Council and TfL want to change our pleasant suburbs?
We believe the whole of Bexley’s environmental future is at stake, not just Belvedere and Thamesmead.
Read about our suggested alternatives here,
and see what you can do to help stop these disastrous road crossings
What About Rail and buses?
We all know that the only way to get traffic moving, and to reduce congestion and pollution,
is to provide better public transport alternatives, and walking and cycling routes,
freeing up the roads for those who have no choice but to drive. So what are TfL proposing
for public transport, walking and cycling?
Buses would be able to use both crossings, and TfL are proposing new bus routes to use them.
Buses may also get separate lanes on the crossings, but they will be shared with HGVs.
And TfL neglect to point out that after the buses come off the crossings, they'll simply
get caught up in the traffic congestion caused by the crossings. Buses are generally
suitable only for short journeys. Alone, they won't provide an alternative for much of the traffic
induced by the crossings.
Likewise, possible DLR and tram lines - are great for short journeys, but for orbital journeys of
any distance, you need heavy rail. And TfL are proposing nothing to address that need. The
result of TfL's proposals will certainly be more traffic, more congestion, more pollution and
slower, more frustrating, journeys for many Londoners.
The state of rail
TfL say they have invested in rail crossings. But the problem is that these
are generally on lines that run into Central London that happen to cross the Thames en route -
and they are mostly useless for orbital North-South journeys. Stupidly, when counting rail
crossings in East London, TfL even counts the Jubilee line 3 times!
The DLR does run North-South in places, and we welcome that TfL have provided
an option for a new DLR crossing at Gallions Reach, but it's a slow light rail, and so only suitable
for relatively short journeys. It doesn't provide a sensible alternative for many of the
car journeys likely to be attracted to the proposed road crossings.
What About Pedestrians and Cyclists?
TfL have suggested providing a separate path along both crossings for pedestrians and cyclists.
If the crossings are built as bridges, then this would require lifts on either side of the Thames
to get up to the level of the bridges (which will be at least 50m above ground). This sounds
welcome, but - crucially - although the consultation talks about pedestrian and cycle access,
the documents accompanying TfL's consultation make it clear that
pedestrian and cycle access is not guaranteed - TfL may decide to build the crossings for
motorized traffic only, with no access for pedestrians and cyclists. This is particularly
likely if the crossings are built as tunnels.