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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 March, 2004, 17:33 GMT
Backing for 385m Thames bridge
Map showing the  location of the proposed bridge
Plans for a 385m six-lane bridge over the Thames in east London have won the backing of Transport for London (TfL).

It is hoped the bridge, linking Newham with Greenwich, will bring new investment to the Thames Gateway.

Plans have yet to go to the planning authorities and TfL has to be granted special powers by the government.

Critics say it will bring more pollution, but the government has already indicated its support with a conditional 200m funding offer.

There are only three crossings for traffic to the east of Tower Bridge, while central London has eight bridges and there are 16 to the west between Chelsea Bridge and the M25.

The initial costs of the Thames Gateway Bridge will be put up by a private company, which will recoup the funds through tolls and 200m of government funding.

One possible design for the bridge
There are several possible designs for the bridge
Residents of the four boroughs around the bridge will get a toll discount, and according to those backing the scheme, will make up most of the 20m vehicles a year expected to use it.

TfL project director Mike Clarke told BBC News Online: "About 98% of traffic will be from the four boroughs adjacent to the bridge."

The bridge is an important part of Mayor of London Ken Livingstone's plans to regenerate the Thames Gateway, a 40-mile-wide area from east and south-east London to Kent and Essex.

It would have two lanes each way for cars and commercial vehicles, a cycle lane, a footpath and two lanes for buses and, if developed, trams and could be built by 2013.

Mr Livingstone says it will be a "vital link" for an area which needs more housing and jobs.

Property blight fears

Environmentalists have criticised the scheme claiming it will be used by businesses to transport more road freight.

Greenwich resident Paul Berry, 38, was shocked to hear of the plans a month after buying his house, which would be close to the road leading to the bridge if it is widened.

"Now I have been lumbered with a property which will be blighted because of how close it is to the new road," he said.

"I have a three-and-a-half year old daughter and there's no way I want to bring her up next to a road like that.

"I think it's completely wrong to have that volume of traffic through a residential's something like 6,000 vehicles at rush hour through the middle of Thamesmead."

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