Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thames Water Deal to Cut Road Closures

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Thames Water Deal to Cut Road Closures

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH

A SCHEME to keep traffic moving was unveiled by Boris Johnson today asThames Water agreed to slash the number of road closures.

Under the deal between the firm and the Mayor, pilot schemes will be conductedto find ways of keeping routes open while work is going on.

Thames Waters replacement of Victorian water mains with plastic tubing is oneof the biggest causes of congestion in the capital.

In return for its co-operation, Mr Johnson has agreed to drop Ken Livingstoneslegal action against its contentious plan for a water desali-nation plant inBeckton, east London.

Mr Livingstone had said the plant would add to carbon dioxide emissions,harming the envi-ronment, because of the huge amount of energy needed toconvert seawater into drinking water.

But Mr Johnson has accepted Thames Waters reassurances that the project will beas green as possible and will supply a vital new source of water for thecapital.

The firm claims that once the plant opens next year, it will provide enoughwater for 400,000 Londoners a day and avoid the need for hosepipe bans even ifthere is a drought.

A pledge to cut the number of needless road closures caused by utility workswas a centre-piece of Mr Johnsons election campaign. Mr Livingstone hadrepeatedly blamed Thames Waters pipe replacement plan for the slowing ofaverage traffic times.

Todays agreement means that the company will carry out pilot schemes to findinnovative ways to reduce road closures.

One target is reopening routes when a newly laid pipe is flushed with chlorineto make it safe to use. At the moment the road stays closed for up to a weekeven though no work appears to be going on at the surface. Thames Water willnow look at reopening the route.

Mr Johnson said he was now withdrawing the legal challenge to Becktondesalination plant. …

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