Thames Gateway Bridge: The east London crossing that was never built - what was it and why was it cancelled
The Thames Gateway Bridge was backed by Ken Livingstone, before being scrapped by Boris Johnson in 2008.
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Just north of London City Airport is an intriguing piece of infrastructure which harks back to one of east London’s major abandoned projects. Namely, the Thames Gateway Bridge.
The infrastructure in question is the beginning of a bridge which ends mid-air, with an outline of the letter ‘H’ just discernible on it. It was meant to form part of the Thames Gateway Bridge, a project which would have connected Thamesmead and Beckton but was canned in 2008 by then-mayor Boris Johnson, citing reasons including local opposition and the environmental impact.
Plans for a crossing of some sort in the area go as far back as the 1970s, due to the lack of options in east London compared to the west of the city.
Initially called the East London River Crossing, the green light was given to a proposed design in 1985. These had to revised however as the introduction of London City Airport, which opened in 1987, meant it needed to not only be able to allow boats to pass beneath it, but also low enough to meet air traffic requirements.
Eight years later, the plans were formally dropped, with a smaller, local bridge proposed. Plans which became the Thames Gateway Bridge.
As well as drivers, the bridge would also have provision for the DLR to extend into Thamesmead, and include a pedestrian link.
However, having been backed by the first London mayor, Ken Livingstone, Mr Johnson cancelled the £500 million project in 2008, leaving what was meant to be the start of the north side of the bridge leading to a dead-end mid-air.
When LondonWorld visited the site, there was little other than a build-up of rubbish and a few vehicles parked nearby. Reporter Jack Abela described it as having “a really bizarre feel, really eerie. It’s almost post-apocalyptic.”
While Thamesmead awaits the long-promised extension of the DLR, it was listed as Transport for London’s (TfL) number one priority by the authority’s commissioner earlier this year.
The area suffers from poor public transport connections, and is currently unserved by Tube, DLR, Overground and National Rail services. The closest stations are Abbey Wood, Plumstead and Belvedere.
For drivers needing to cross the Thames in east London, the only options currently are the Blackwall Tunnel, the Woolwich Ferry and Tower Bridge.
The Dartford Crossing, connecting Essex and Kent, is located further east, while the Silvertown Tunnel, connecting the Greenwich peninsula with the Royal Docks, is expected to open in 2025.