The Mayor of London has reaffirmed his commitment to progressing the Hammersmith Flyunder – sinking the A4 into a tunnel – but raised the prospect of using tolls to pay for it.
The Mayor made the announcement during a trip to Boston where a similar project – the “Big Dig” – diverted several major roads underground.
He said he thinks the same could happen in a number of locations in London, including Hammersmith. However, he said there would need to be a financial model for paying for the excavations, and that tolls were one possibility.
As well as Hammersmith, the Mayor thinks the model could work in for the A13 in Barking Riverside, the A3 in Tolworth, A316 at Chalkers Corner and the A406 in New Southgate.
Hammersmith & Fulham Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan, said: “We just need the Mayor to put his hand in his pocket, instead of wasting £70million of taxpayers’ cash repairing this monstrosity. Sinking the flyover would free up land to be used for affordable housing, parks and cycling facilities.
“Our plans are the most developed of those suggested and will help ensure London remains a major trade centre for the 22nd Century and, if done the right way, it could be a real gem.”
The Council does not necessarily agree that tolls would be necessary for funding. They point to feasibility studies they have published that show release of the land for development could generate enough money to cover the costs of the short tunnel proposal, without the need for a toll.
HammersmithLondon – the town centre BID – was also delighted by Boris Johnson’s announcement. After years of lobbying and support from the BID, the Hammersmith flyunder project now could move into its next phase, which could have a huge impact on Hammersmith and west London.
The BID has supported plans for a tunnel ever since the flyover’s dramatic closure in 2011 highlighted the need for a long-term replacement.
The BID says that not only would the removal of the flyover reconnect Hammersmith with the river, but would release land, reduce noise emissions, improve public realm, increase footfall, attract inward investment and allow Hammersmith to further enhance its image as a destination in its own right.
Executive Director of HammersmithLondon BID, Arun Sondhi, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news for Hammersmith. A tunnelled by-pass has the potential to transform the area into a vibrant social and economic centre which would benefit the local business environment greatly. We look forward to working the local authority, Transport for London and the Mayor to make sure that whatever tunnel ling option is chosen will transform the area for decades to come.”
In March 2014, the BID commissioned and published an Economic Study exploring the potential benefits of building a road tunnel under the A4.
With nine local architects’ firms, HammersmithLondon formed West London Link Design to look at how the replacement of a flyover would present an opportunity to build for the economic, social and cultural benefit of all.