By Joe Talora, Local Democracy Reporter
Tunnelling work for a controversial new £2 billion river crossing has begun despite fierce opposition from locals and politicians.
The Silvertown Tunnel will be the first new river crossing in London in more than 30 years and will link Newham to the Greenwich peninsula via a 1.4km road tunnel under the River Thames.
Transport for London (TfL) confirmed on Wednesday that the 82 metre-long tunnel boring machine being used to dig the crossing had been launched, putting it on course to open as planned by 2025.
The Silvertown tunnel route (Picture: TfL)
The project has been the subject of much controversy since it was given the green light by the Government in 2018, with critics warning that building a new road in an area with some of the worst air pollution in the country would further worsen air quality and contradict the Mayor of London’s net-zero targets.
But Sadiq Khan and TfL have stressed that the new tunnel is needed to relieve congestion from the nearby Blackwall Tunnel, which is closed an average of 700 times a year, and that tolls on both the Blackwall and Silvertown tunnels will mitigate any potential increase in traffic.
Helen Wright, head of the Silvertown Tunnel programme at TfL, said: “The start of tunnelling is a huge step forward for this project and we are committed to working hard to ensure that it is delivered with minimal impact to Londoners.
“As well as reducing congestion and providing better cross-river bus opportunities, the new tunnel will also help deliver a wide range of local improvements, including dedicated walking and cycling infrastructure and new landscaping.”
Green Party London Assembly Member Sian Berry, who has been a vocal opponent of the scheme, said that it was a “vast new road building project” which will “increase car dependency and risk new traffic and pollution” for those living in the vicinity of the tunnel
Pictured top: View of the Silvertown construction from Newham (Picture: Sludge G/Flickr)