Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thames Gateway Bridge 'Based on Wrong Figures'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thames Gateway Bridge 'Based on Wrong Figures'

Article excerpt

Byline: ROSS LYDALL

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new [pounds sterling]400million road bridge across the Thames have been dealt a fresh blow.

Transport for London has been forced to admit its traffic-flow calculations are wrong - because it forgot that the congestion charge had risen from [pounds sterling]5 to [pounds sterling]8.

This follows an earlier blunder by TfL when it underestimated local traffic flow at the bridge's southern end in Bexley - forcing a public inquiry into the plans to be adjourned for two months.

Campaigners are now calling for the bridge plan to be scrapped. They say it has been poorly thought out and is at odds with government wishes to cut car use in London.

The six-lane bridge, which would link Beckton and Thamesmead, is being promoted by TfL on behalf of Ken Livingstone to improve access to the Thames Gateway. The area is earmarked for 120,000 new homes by 2016.

There are only three Thames crossings in east London between Tower Bridge and the M25 but 16 west of Vauxhall Bridge. TfL believes the bridge would cut 20 to 30 minutes off journeys, as drivers would not need to divert to Dartford or the Blackwall tunnel, and put thousands more jobs within reach of south-east London residents.

But TfL expert witness Richard Smith was forced to admit that calculations of traffic generated by the bridge were based on a [pounds sterling]5 congestion charge. This "oversight" was despite the fact that the Mayor announced plans to increase the charge in November 2004 - six months before the public inquiry began.

The series of blunders has meant that the inquiry, originally due to last six weeks, will now take a year. …

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