London Bridge’s Building Up

The London Chamber of Commerce has recently announced that it will begin funding a campaign to revitalize the city’s economy by building a new bridge across the Thames. Although a name has not been finalized, internal memos refer to it as “Bridge East London,” and say that it will be built to link Beckton and Thamesmead at Gallions Reach in the SouthEastern quadrant of the city. This historically underdeveloped and poverty-stricken area has long endured commuter problems as workers are forced to drive or bike along 15 miles of congested riverbank just to reach the next crossing.

_75944419_2014-06-30-eastlondonbridgeatnight-lcciThe BBC reports that the bridge is expected to cost approximately £600 million, with an exact price currently unknown. This admittedly considerable price tag comes with the benefit of a protected bike lane, as well as several lanes to direct traffic to and from the city. In addition, the bridge is being built relatively high in order to prevent shipping disruption. Many architects speculate that additional costs are the result of extra testing in order to guarantee the bridge’s stability in the event of aircraft taking off nearby, as the bridge will span just a few miles South of the London Airport.

The Chamber of Commerce’s decision has attracted some criticism. Opponents point to the cost, which is more than four times that of another ferry. Others have pushed for a move in the proposed location, believing that the bridge will do more good if placed at Gallions Reach or Beldrive instead.

_75944420_2014-06-30-eastlondonbridgefrombank-lcciProponents, meanwhile, point to the fact that London is expected to grow by at least 1.5 million people over the next two decades, with a hefty percentage of that growth concentrated in the region around the bridge. Furthermore, they believe that a bridge will attract more real estate development than a ferry, and point to several examples in the city’s long history of growth following the building of new bridges.

Regardless, this new bridge will mean big changes for the citizens of London. Residents of the SouthEastern region in particular can expect shorter commutes, easier access to consumer goods, and possibly, greater general prosperity.