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Rotherhithe bridge: Mayor targets 'ambitious' 2024 opening date

The mayor of London has said the proposed Rotherhithe Bridge could open as soon as 2024 if “ambitious” targets are met.

Answering questions in the London Assembly, Sadiq Khan said Transport for London was due to publish a business case for the bridge in the coming months.

This would be followed by a public consultation, he added, with an application for the bridge submitted in 2019.

TfL would need to submit a transport works act order to the Department for Transport to approve the necessary funding and powers for the bridge to be built.

According to the mayor, this could take 12-24 months, with construction then anticipated to take up to four years to complete.

The bridge is a new Thames crossing that would connect Rotherhithe in south London with Canary Wharf. If given the go-ahead, the bridge would be the first dedicated pedestrian and cycle bridge built in London.

Plans were first proposed by cycle charity Sustrans in 2008, with the project listed in the National Infrastructure Plan in 2014.

Speaking in the assembly, Mr Khan said: “2024 is ambitious, I think that during term two [if he were to win a second term] construction should be well under way, but of course construction beginning doesn’t mean it will finish on time.

“2024, in the words of the civil servant who wrote the report, is ‘ambitious’.

“We would have to go all hands to the pump to get it completed [by that date].”

Asked by assembly member Caroline Pidgeon whether the mayor expected construction to start in or around May 2020, Mr Khan said: “I hope so, the reason why building works may not start in 2020 is that there isn’t a deadline on when [the transport secretary] would be given a deadline to respond.”

Ms Pidgeon also asked the mayor whether he would re-open an investigation into procurement procedures of the Rotherhithe Bridge, claiming that “something doesn’t smell right” with the procurement as it stood.

Mr Khan declined to refer the project to auditors but offered to have the deputy mayor for transport Heidi Alexander meet with Ms Pidgeon to answer any conerns she may have.

Earlier this year Atkins won the controversial battle to design the proposed Rotherhithe-to-Canary Wharf crossing, with the firm providing engineering and architecture support for the scheme after being chosen by TfL’s professional services network.

The mayor was also quizzed over the costs of the bridge, which Conservative AM Gareth Bacon claimed TfL had estimated at £120m-£187m based on 2016 prices.

Mr Khan said he did not know the current estimate for the bridge, with detailed costs likely to be kept private for commercial reasons until the business case had been published.

However, he accepted that he expected the costs to rise above initial estimates.

“I couldn’t put a finger on it but it’s not unreasonable to suggest it [the cost] will be higher rather than lower,” he added.

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