Bexley Against Road Crossings

The New Crossings

The proposed crossings. Top: Gallions Reach, bottom: Belvedere. Source: TfL

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

Photo of congestion on Dartford Crossing Photo of congestion on Dartford Crossing
Congestion on Dartford crossing.

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...

Map showing how you'll be able to make North-South journeys by car
North-South journeys by car
Map showing how you'll be able to make North-South journeys by train (You can't)
North-South journeys by train

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

Map of Tfl's proposals
TfL's map of the proposed bridges (Source: TfL's Consultation)

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.

TfL sketch of Belvedere bridge
The Belvedere crossing as sketched by TFL and Bexley Council

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 here.

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.