Mayor calls for further improvements to London’s roads

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has called for new measures – including the introduction of two new east-west cross-city tunnels – to secure the long-term success of the capital’s roads.  

With London’s population forecast to grow from 8.6 million people to 10m by 2030, the Mayor and TfL have been considering the potential for different types of measures including a network of congestion-busting tunnels, incentives to improve freight movement, and changes to the way Londoners pay for road use.

During his term in office, the Mayor has created a major £4bn roads programme for London, the largest investment in the capital’s roads in a generation.

Mr Johnson has now set out further measures that will be needed going forward to manage the extra one million trips per day that are being added to the capital’s transport network every five years. If left unmanaged, congestion could potentially increase by 60% over the next 15 years in central London, 25% in inner London and 15% in outer London unless these strategic plans are put in place.

Last year the Mayor asked Transport for London to look into the potential for new tunnels to relieve congestion in London. Today he set out plans for the preferred option that has emerged from this work, two major east-west cross-city tunnels. Transport for London has now been tasked with carrying out further detailed feasibility studies into these new tunnels, which could reduce congestion by up to 20% in central London and attract investment to the areas above them, whilst radically improving the quality of the local environment and creating new space on the city surface for pedestrians, cyclists and buses. Potential ‘routes’ have now been identified for these new tunnels, drawing on experience from other cities such as Stockholm and Boston.

A number of smaller tunnels and ‘flyunders’ across London have also been identified that would see roads moved underground, unlocking land at the surface for thousands of new homes and open space.  As an example, two locations – the A13 in Barking and the A3 at Tolworth would have the potential to release land for up to 6,000 homes combined, with a broader significant regeneration impact across a wider surrounding area.

The Mayor has also called on the government to consider devolving the revenue from vehicle excise duty to London. This would allow the Mayor to ensure that money collected from London’s road users is directly invested into the capital’s roads rather than diverted into general national tax revenue. It would also address the fact that none of the £500m per annum raised from VED on London-registered vehicles is currently spent on the capital’s roads.

Transport for London has also initiated work to explore how the logistical burden of several charges could be eased. With schemes such as the Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zone (LEZ) already in place, the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) being implemented in 2020, and the proposed charges on the Blackwall and future Silvertown tunnels, the Mayor believes there could be an opportunity to simplify payments through a more integrated approach.

Mr Johnson said: “London is booming and, as our great capital thrives, our ambitions for the veins and arteries that keep our city alive must grow with it. Around eight of every 10 journeys in London are made using our roads – whether by car, taxi, motorbike, bus, cycle, foot, or freight – which is why it is vital that we think big. We must deliver long-term solutions that will not just make the most of the space we have for road users, but bring environmental and amenity improvements to local areas. I am proud of the many congestion-busting measures we have introduced in my term in office, but we need to go further. By pushing forward strategic initiatives we are outlining today, we will lay the foundation for the next wave of improvements to everyone’s experience of the road network across the city.”

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Comments

Describing new inner-city, urban tunnels as ‘congestion busting’ is an absolute fallacy. You only have to look at the capital cities in Australia, which have embraced the idea of inner-city ‘congestion busting’ tunnels to see that these tunnels only encourage more use of private vehicles. Brisbane, for example, has sunk billions of dollars in road tunnels that is encouraging a modal shift away from the much-more efficient public transport options to vehicles. London has such a massive latent demand for transport that any increase in capacity would quickly be taken up, and the net impact would be more vehicles on our streets.

It all sounds rather 20th century…