The IPPR’s Ed Cox reckoned expenditure on transport infrastructure, per capita, was:
- south-west £215 [Index=100],
- north-east £246 [Index=114],
- Yorkshire and Humberside £303 [Index=141],
- north-west £839 [Index= 309],
- London £4,895 [Index=2,277].
Meanwhile, every few weeks the Thomas Heatherwick/Joanna Lumley “Garden Bridge” gets another puff or two in the metropolitan press, always appended to the Arup “visualisation” (homage to Canaletto never offered):
Today in The Guardian (which ought to know better) obliges:
“We didn’t want any old bridge,” says Richard De Cani, Transport for London’s director of strategy and policy, who was instrumental in the Emirates Air Line cable car, east London’s mostly empty aerial sponsorship opportunity. “We’ve got our lean, mean, efficient footbridges, like the Millennium and Hungerford, so we were interested in a bridge that did something else.”
He describes the £175m project as “supporting economic growth and development”, bringing some of the South Bank’s bustle to the “dead world” of the north bank. Lifting off from just east of the National Theatre, the Garden bridge will cross the river, and the roaring dual carriageway of Victoria Embankment, to land on top of Temple tube station, one of the least-used stops in central London. The area has been newly christenedNorthbank, and there are plans to pedestrianise the stretch of the Strand between the Aldwych crescent, a scheme into which the bridge neatly dovetails as a benevolent bringer of crowds.
You noticed the gybe about the “mostly empty” Dangleway. Did you miss the magic number: £175 million — which is up a further £25 million from the number bandied by Boris Johnson just two months ago. However, the project:
… has garnered not only the support of London‘s mayor-cum-novelty-infrastructure-tsar, Boris Johnson, who has pledged £30m from his transport budget, but also the backing of central government, in the form of a further £30m from the Treasury. A detailed planning application has now been submitted, with the aim of having it built by 2018.
Now I can think of several provincial cities who would know precisely what to do with £30 million of unqualified Treasury support for a new bridge (the city of York comes instantly to mind). In these cases, the new provision comes nearer to necessity than an “icon” or a “folly”.