Transport for London (TfL) have launched a formal public consultation on proposals for a new Blackwall Tunnel to run alongside the existing one – called the Silvertown Tunnel. This is a summary they give of the reasons which certainly spells out why it is required:
“The Blackwall Tunnel is at the heart of east London’s strategic road network, linking the A12, the A13, the A2 and the A20. It is crucial to the success of the east London economy because it is the focus for most of the demand to cross the river by road in the east. The current levels of demand to use the Blackwall Tunnel greatly exceed the capacity of the tunnel, and there is regularly very significant congestion in and around the area. The tunnel itself was first opened in 1897 and was designed for horse & coaches. While the Blackwall Tunnel is accessible to most vehicles, it wasn’t designed for modern freight vehicles, or double deck buses. As a result, it is highly susceptible to disruptive incidents which can require that it be closed at very short notice.
The Silvertown Tunnel will reduce congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel, improve the resilience of the surrounding road network and support economic and population growth. In recognition of the importance of the project, it has been designated a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’.”
The old Blackwall tunnel bores will remain in use. There would be a charge to use both the old tunnel and the new Silvertown Tunnel which is likely to be (at today’s prices – no doubt more when built), of £1 off peak and £3 at peak times (the latter being 06.00 to 10.00 northbound and 16.00 to 19.00 southbound) – it will be free before 06.00 and after 22.00 hours.
The charge will be collected and enforced by cameras as with the Dartford crossing (i.e. it will be a free flow system with no toll booths, which of course means that there will be enormous numbers of fines incurred). There may be discounts for account holders and 100% discount for blue badge holders, low emission vehicles, taxis, private hire vehicles, buses and a few other categories.
Environmental impacts seem to be either minimal, or positive.
This writer is certainly in favour of this proposal and considers that the sooner it is progressed the better. But I do not like the charging scheme.
If you use the Blackwall Tunnel, please be sure to submit your comments to the public consultation a.s.a.p. at this web address: www.tfl.gov.uk/silvertown-tunnel