Boris recognises need for infrastructure investment

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22nd May 2009

Months after scrapping £3.7bn of planned major transport schemes, London mayor, Boris Johnson, has said that ‘without additional infrastructure, London’s economic success could be threatened’.

Johnson halted funding for the development of schemes such as the Cross River Tram and the Thames Gateway Bridge six months ago, saying he was ‘just stopping the deception’ that they would be funded (Surveyor, 13 November 2008).

But, in his Transport strategy statement of intent, the mayor acknowledged that overcrowding and congestion would ‘again start to worsen’ after 2017, even with 30% extra transport capacity in the pipeline, mainly from Crossrail.

The document promises ‘further measures,’ given the one million extra people expected to be accommodated in the capital by 2031, and a predicted two million extra daily trips. These would include both ‘additional infrastructure and services’ and ‘measures to manage demand’.

But, final decisions on what schemes Johnson would back for the period beyond 2017 will depend on whether he presses ahead with a more dispersed form of development. The Outer London Commission will recommend in July whether allocating more of the capital’s planned development to the suburbs instead of focusing it solely on the central activities zone would ‘sustain London’s economic success’.

Johnson acknowledges, however, that whatever form of development is finally chosen, ‘there will be a continuing high level of stress on the system in central London’, and ‘radial transport links will continue to be essential’. However, while the statement appears to leave the door open for the revival of schemes put on ice, such as the Cross River Tram – the loss of which was the London Technical Advisors Group’s ‘biggest disappointment’ – TfL scotched this in a statement to Surveyor.

A spokesman for TfL said that ‘work is currently under way on considering whether a range of alternative transport schemes could serve the area’ which would have benefited from the Cross River Tram.

This would ‘allow the mayor to consider whether to take forward any alternative schemes as part of his new transport strategy, and whether funding can realistically be secured from the Government for alternative schemes’. The document also paves the way for development of further road-pricing schemes, low-emission zones, and other measures to encourage changes to journeys.

Earlier this year, Johnson suspended the third phase of the capital’s LEZ, which would have applied to small lorries and vans from October 2010. • Transport strategy statement of intent. :