Rotherhithe Cycle and Pedestrian Bridge

An article contributed by the Rotherhithe Bridge Action Group:

Sadiq Khan’s Taxpayer funded vanity project – the world’s longest and tallest vertical lift bridge.

Rotherhithe Bridge 2Rotherhithe Bridge 1

TfL recently confirmed that their chosen bridge design, connecting the eastern fringes of Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf, is a vertical lift bridge with a truss deck. The bridge will have concrete towers 90m tall and 15m wide, supporting a bridge deck 180m long. The Rotherhithe Bridge design is 10m longer than the Arthur Kill railroad bridge, currently the world’s longest vertical lift bridge. The deck will lift to a height of 60m above the mean spring high waters to facilitate the movement of large vessels.

The initial cost of the Rotherhithe Bridge is currently estimated at £400m+, with project costs at £600m (including operating, renewal and maintenance costs of £2.4m per annum over the appraisal period of the asset). Currently the GLA have allocated just over £100m towards the Rotherhithe Bridge. As private funding has failed to meet the remaining cost, TfL have confirmed that the funding will come from the 2017/18-2021/22 Healthy Streets Programme budget. As a result many programmes, which include cycling projects, are at risk of being postponed or cancelled.

TfL analysed the Navigable Bridge (swing design) as having the highest Benefit to Cost Ratio (“BCR”) value of 1.97:1, as compared to a tunnel or enhanced ferry. Further investigation shows that TfL used a bridge cost of £19m or less to achieve this favourable 1.97 BCR value. Using the current bridge cost estimates gives a realistic BCR value of just 0.65:1. This project, therefore, represents poor value for money and always has done. TfL have actually estimated a swing bridge cost of between £182m and £274m (including 52% optimum bias), so it is difficult to understand the reasons for using the erroneous £19m value in the BCR analysis. Sadiq Khan and TfL have failed to provide an explanation. Since the Mayor was made aware of this material error in 2018 he has spent a further £7.2m on the Rotherhithe Bridge project.

More information on the BCR analysis is provided in this document:

TfL have chosen the central alignment connecting Durand’s Wharf Park, south of the river, to Westferry Circus. No feasability study was commissioned to determine the most suitable location for a bridge in East London. TfL confirmed that this was because the location had been selected by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Spending £600m on any project without commissioning this basic assessment is irresponsible at best.

Thames Clippers is currently working with Beckett Rankine to develop a rival scheme to the Rotherhithe Bridge. This uses three all electric, zero emission, ferries with a new pier at Rotherhithe and an extended pier at Canary Wharf. The total cost would be under £30m which is a fraction of the £400m+ cost of the Rotherhithe Bridge. The ferries would be cycle-on cycle-off and during peak times all three would run, departing every few minutes. There are a number of examples where this works well around the world including Gosport and Amsterdam.

With Sadiq Khan’s mantra being that he will not tolerate any waste of public money; it is hard to understand why so much Taxpayer funds are being spent on the Rotherhithe Bridge. The free to use enhanced ferry is a far cheaper viable alternative, which meets the “Healthy Streets” objectives without compromising other projects.

Karryn Beaumont

Rotherhithe Bridge Action Group


5 thoughts on “Rotherhithe Cycle and Pedestrian Bridge

  1. An important point as well is that the new ferries would be far more suitable for disabled commuters as it would provide protection from the weather and it would avoid the extended on off ramps and significant climb onto the bridge.
    Several much needed ferry crossings could be built for the cost of this single bridge!!

  2. It is clearly a folly to build such a record breaking structure for a limited number of beneficiaries. Destruction of a beautiful part of the river in an area which is sadly lacking in aesthetically appealing scenery is not at all desirable and would spoil the river walkway for the general public. Anyone who is local and experiences the high wind speed which have the ability to stop a person weighing 10 stone in their tracks would realise that crossing a bridge at this point would be difficult.

    A ferry would be fine, but if a bridge is required it should be somewhere where a standard type bridge is feasible and where the journey across is short, not so lengthy as to make it inconvenient.

  3. It is staggering that TfL have ignored all negative impacts or ‘disbenefits’ in the Benefit Cost Ratio analysis on a project of this scale.

    It is little wonder so few projects run by TfL are on budget and deliver the promised benefits.

    Scrapping this illogical scheme now, and switching to the far cheaper electric ferries, would both deliver a river crossing and free up millions of pounds to be spent on much needed projects around London.

    Sadiq Khan does keep bleating about a lack of funds, after all.

  4. Eloquently written. A startling awakening into the implications of this proposal.

    As a cyclist, I feel the use of taxpayer’s money could be put to much greater use.

    Astounding waste of Human Resources and an insult to our proud city!

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