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Thames Barrier Bridge proposal revealed

Plans for a cycling and pedestrian bridge which runs parallel to the Thames Barrier have been drawn up by marine engineer Beckett Rankine.

The proposal combines four lifting sections, each spanning 61m. Each can be individually opened or closed to allow river traffic to pass.

Developed by London-based firm Beckett Rankine in partnership with architect Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, the 530m series of long double-leaf bascule bridges has been designed as a possible replacement to the Woolwich Ferry.

The ferry service is expected to close after planned road bridges across the River Thames at Gallions Reach and Rotherhithe are built.

The crossing would connect new developments in Charlton on the south bank of the Thames with the Thames Barrier park, next to the new Silvertown Quays development.

While a detailed cost analysis has yet to be finalised, Beckett Rankine director Tim Beckett claims that the bridge could be part funded by the developers on either side of the river.

Beckett also claims the Thames Barrier Bridge would be much easier to maintain, cheaper to construct and more efficient than single span bridges such as the proposed vertical lift bridge connecting Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf.

“There is one place, and only one place, where you can put this kind of bridge in and that is right next to the Thames Barrier,” Beckett told New Civil Engineer. “All the navigational controls for it are already there as part of the Thames Barrier control centre.

“Nowhere else would you be allowed to put in a bridge with such short spans, but because the obstruction is already there [because of the barrier] then you can capitalise on that.”

Beckett added: “The problem with other proposed bridges in East London, such as the Rotherhithe Crossing, is that they have one extremely long span.

“Not only does that present serious engineering challenges but it also takes an extremely long time to clear the bridge deck so the out-of-use period becomes quite long.”

The proposal was previously taken to Transport for London at the end of 2017, and talks are now ongoing with councils and developers on either side of the river.

The bridge would comprise curved piers clad in stainless steel, and a stainless steel mesh deck on yellow steel box girders.

Beckett added that having multiple opening spans means sections of the bridge can be maintained without disrupting river traffic or pedestrian/cycling traffic.

Each lifting span will be raised using steel cables and winch drums, which would be powered electrically or hydraulically.

Under the plans, the bridge would be controlled by the existing Thames Barrier control team.

At present the journey by car or public transport between Charlton and Royal Victoria Dock Stations is 35 minutes but, with this link, would be a 10 minute cycle ride.

Thames barrier bridge location

Thames Barrier Bridge location

Steer has assessed the transport need of the crossing, while Eadon Consulting has provided mechanical and electrical expertise and Core5 has acted as cost consultants.

The designs go on display as part of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, which opens to the public today.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • I'm struggling to see the need for this seemingly complicated, possibly expensive and maintenance intensive bridge. With the pedestrian Woolwich Foot Tunnel and the Emirates 'Airline' at the O2 only 1-2 kilometres away is this entirely necessary? I know the Airline requires a ticket and that you have to walk your bike through the tunnel but perhaps public money could be better spent elsewhere. Is this a big commuter route or would it relieve heavy congestion on other stretched public transport routes?

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  • Philip Alexander

    Oh dear. I feel another Garden Bridge coming on. Once all the luvvies see it at the RA they will be clamouring for someone else's money to be spent on a ridiculously expensive and complicated bridge. Bin it now, it's only a bunch of consultants looking for fees for a pet project.

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  • Critical National Infrastructure? Security implications?

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