Is going underground the answer to London’s traffic problems?

Is going underground the answer to London's traffic problems? 13th May 2014

Getting around London could soon be very different if new plans from mayor Boris Johnson come to fruition.

It has been announced that an Inner Orbital Tunnel could be created beneath the city to help tackle the capital's traffic problem.

Covering 22 miles, it will act as an underground ring road, taking vehicles off the streets.

While in its very early stages of planning, if pushed forward it will cost an estimated £30 billion.

Upon construction, the tunnel will centre at roughly the Zone One and Two boundary, with dual carriageway tunnels linking the Westway to A12.

The two new tunnels are expected to cross the Thames at Wapping and Battersea, while the southern section would pass through the redevelopment areas of Nine Elms and Elephant and Castle.

It is believed that the scheme would take thousands of vehicles off the surface roads, lowering both congestion and pollution.

However, the tunnel would not be operational for a decade or more.

Isabel Dedring, deputy mayor for transport, told the Standard: "This is not about creating a motorway through the centre of London. It’s about freeing up capacity on the city surface, improving air quality, and reclaiming space for public parks, pedestrians and cyclists."

While some drivers may not be keen on using roads located below the city, a solution is needed to London's congestion problems.

David Leam, head of infrastructure at London First, explained to the Financial Times that City Hall should be investigating innovative schemes such as these to help relieve the pressure on the capital's transport system.

Yet Mr Leam isn't confident that the proposals will ever become a reality. He believes that the creation of the portals necessary for cars to leave and enter the ring-road would cause too much disruption.

Stephen Joseph, head of the Campaign for Better Transport, also told the newspaper that he was unconvinced by the plans. He claims the scheme resembles those floating around in the 1960s, which prioritised growth of the city around artery roads. Creating an underground ring road would neither improve transport or communities, Mr Joseph concluded.

Posted by Danielle Barge