A planned walking and cycling bridge linking Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe has been axed by Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London due to increased costs.
Mr Khan pledged his support for the project during the 2016 Mayoral election.
In a letter to the London Assembly’s transport committee, Heidi Alexander, Mr Khan’s transport deputy, said TfL had concluded that the final cost could reach “over £600m” compared to a budget of £350m, adding that the bridge “is therefore unaffordable in the short to medium term, particularly in the context of TfL’s wider financial challenges.”
A combination of reduced Government funding, shortfalls in fares income and the impact of Mayor Khan’s fares freeze has forced the organisation to cut swathes of management roles, reduce opening hours of ticket offices on the London Overground, axe and shorten bus routes and delay planned spending on network upgrades.
Alexander says that while TfL has been unable to find a way to deliver the bridge, work is now underway to develop a ferry option “that is more affordable as a short to medium-term way of providing the walking and cycling connectivity that is needed at this location.”
“This would be considerably cheaper than building a lifting bridge, and the service could be up and running more quickly.”
City Hall says “around £13m” has been spent on the bridge scheme to date.
A spokesperson for Mayor Khan said that “TfL have used all of their expertise to try and lower the costs of a viable new bridge at this site, but it would now cost substantially more than the money allocated in the Business Plan.
“Pausing work is now the sensible and responsible thing to do to protect the London taxpayer.”
Responding to the decision, Southwark Council leader Peter John tweeted: “This is terrible news for Rotherhithe and Southwark residents. We will be challenging @tfl on this proposed decision and asking tough questions about why a Mayoral pledge can so easily be cast aside.”
The Living Streets campaign said it was “disappointing that this is put on hold whilst work on the Silvertown road tunnel progresses.
“Schemes which would help people choose healthier & cleaner ways to travel should be prioritised over those which only stand to worsen life-threatening air pollution levels.”