Transport for London (TfL) have named the Riverlinx Consortium as the preferred bidder for the Silvertown Tunnel. This is the new tunnel to relieve congestion at the Blackwall Tunnels, something that has been desperately needed for some years.
The Consortium is a private finance project backed by several investors. They will get the build costs and the initial maintenance costs from a toll on the users of the both the Silvertown and Blackwall Tunnels. Some vehicles will also be paying an additional ULEZ charge because the tunnels will fall within the expanded ULEZ area.
TfL say they do not have the funds to finance such major projects despite the Mayor of London having an annual budget of over £18 billion, one of the largest for any municipal organisation in the world. Relying on private finance initiative funding has been shown to be one of the most expensive ways to provide public infrastructure in the long-term so this is probably another example of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s financial ignorance. Perhaps it’s a case of TfL being unable to borrow the money to finance the project as they are beginning to look like a basket-case of the first order.
The new tunnel should substantially reduce congestion and cut air pollution from the queuing or standing traffic that happens most days at present. The build contract should be formally awarded in the summer, with completion by 2025. But the Green Party are still opposing it.
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