A former Labour transport secretary has called plans for a road bridge at Gallions Reach in Thamesmead a “no-brainer”.
Lord Andrew Adonis also slammed Mayor Boris Johnson for shelving plans for a Thames Gateway bridge on coming to power in 2008.
The shadow minister for infrastructure was one of the speakers at the launch of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Bridge East London campaign this morning calling for a new river crossing east of Tower Bridge.
Speaking to News Shopper after the event Lord Adonis said: “I think there is momentum but it depends upon the Mayor and depends upon him taking some decisions after May because he cancelled it in 2008 and he needs to revisit that decision.
“If Boris had gone ahead with building it in 2008 it would have opened last year.
“If he were to take a decision in the next year, who knows? He might get it open by 2020.”
Lord Adonis pointed to a TFL consultation in May last year in which 68 per cent of respondents in Bexley backed building a bridge between Beckton and Thamesmead rather than another ferry or simply doing nothing.
He said: “It was a good test of opinion and there is a groundswell of support for this.
“There is very strong popular support for this bridge because it would unlock tens thousands of jobs and homes.
“What have we done in the last two generations to supplement the work of the great Victorians?
“We have three times proposed a bridge in east London and three times cancelled it.
“This is a no-brainer in political terms – we should just get on and do it.”
The LCCI argues Gallions has the greatest potential to both ease traffic congestion on either side of the river as it will use different approach roads to the Blackwall Tunnel and also unlock land for much needed housing development.
In addition, Lord Adonis backed plans for a Silvertown Tunnel and a new Lower Thames Crossing to address the fact there are 22 bridges to the west of Tower Bridge and only two to the east.
But Bexley Council cabinet member for the environment and public realm, Councillor Gareth Bacon, accused the LCCI of “dusting off old, discredited plans”.
He told News Shopper: “Thousands of Bexley residents could have their lives blighted by a bridge at Gallions Reach.
“A bridge there would not do anything for anyone.
“Nobody has come up with anything that could solve the problems of congestion at Knee Hill, Brampton Road and Long Lane.”
Coun Bacon says the council is not opposed to a new bridge but would prefer other options be looked at, including the site of the current Woolwich Ferry.
He said: “The roads on both sides are much better able to support the volume of traffic which would result from a fixed transport link.”
Belvedere Councillor Sean Newman says the Bexley Labour group backs plans for a bridge.
He said: "This is a massive opportunity, with the correct traffic mitigation, to develop and regenerate our borough and Bexley will benefit from lots of investment.
"The Tory council is peddling scare stories for short-term political gain, but Bexley residents are wise to it."
Mr Johnson has recently said he would like to see “further bridge crossings to the east of Tower Bridge” by 2020.
A spokeswoman for the Mayor said: “The Mayor has been a strong and vocal supporter for more river crossings in east London and is pushing them ahead as fast as national infrastructure processes allow.
“He has already built the Emirates Air Line, which has carried 3.4 million passengers, and is pressing ahead with the Silvertown Tunnel in order to double capacity of Blackwall by 2022.
“He is also finalising the consultation on possible crossings east of Silvertown to unlock massive opportunity areas for homes and jobs.”