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Exclusive | TfL wants to build world’s longest vertical lift bridge across Thames

Tfl bridge design altered

Transport for London (TfL) wants to build the world’s longest and tallest vertical lift bridge across the River Thames, New Civil Engineer can reveal.

TfL has opted for a 90m tall vertical lift bridge, which spans 180m, as its preferred option for the Rotherhithe Crossing, confidential TfL documents seen by New Civil Engineer show.

It is understood that the pedestrian and cycling bridge’s concrete towers will be 90m tall and 15m wide, while its deck will lift to a height of 60m, making it the longest and tallest vertical lift bridge in the world.

The bridge deck itself will be 8m wide, 12m above high tide level and 180m long.

The proposed crossing connecting Rotherhithe with Canary Wharf would be 10m longer than the Arthur Kill bridge in New York, which is currently the longest lift bridge in the world. 

The original cost estimate for the bridge was set at £300M to £400M. TfL has yet to confirm if there has been any change in cost, with designs and plans still subject to change ahead of a public consultation expected to launch next month.

The documents also confirm that the preferred location of the bridge will be from Durrands Wharf on the south side of the river to Westferry Circus and that it will be “L-shaped”, as revealed by New Civil Engineer in November last year. 

The proposed crossing will also link into proposed cycle routes on both sides of the river. 

A TfL spokesperson said: “Following a public consultation in November 2017, we have been working to develop our proposed plans for a pedestrian and cycling crossing between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf.

“As part of this, we have been engaging directly with key stakeholders, such as the Port of London Authority and the boroughs on either side of the river, working through issues such as bridge alignment, landing points, opening mechanism, construction methods and operating procedures.

“This will ensure the final scheme is deliverable and appropriate for all users. We are still working on the designs and plans.”

In October last year, New Civil Engineer revealed that Thames Clippers was lining up a ferry shuttle service proposal to rival the bridge concept.

Estimated to cost a tenth of the original £300M to £400M valuation of the bridge, the proposed service would involve a fleet of three ferries which can be boarded from either end.

The “Tube-style” service will depart every two or three minutes with each ferry carrying 150 passengers including 50 cyclists and 100 pedestrians.

It is understood that backers of the scheme have been waiting for a public consultation on the bridge before officially tabling their ferry scheme.

A TfL spokesperson confirmed that “a number of issues” had pushed the consultation back from its original autumn 2018 launch date.

In its latest board papers, TfL confirmed that the consultation will now start in April with the view to submitting a Transport & Works Act Order application “later this year”.

Last year, TfL’s preferred option of a navigable crossing that can open for shipping won the backing of 85% of respondents to a public consultation, while 93% supported an east London crossing in some form.

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