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$260M Garden Bridge Plan Crumbles

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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More than three months after London Mayor Sadiq Khan pulled his support from the foundering Garden Bridge project, the River Thames plan is officially dead in the water.

The nonprofit Garden Bridge Trust announced Monday (Aug. 14) that it is “winding up” the project, which was projected to cost 200 million pounds (about $260 million), and which has already cost London taxpayers an estimated 37.4 million pounds. Khan announced in late April that he was pulling city support from the project, citing what he called “exorbitant” costs to build and maintain the structure.

Garden Bridge rendering
Rendering: Garden Bridge Trust

Plans called for the pedestrian bridge to be covered with vegetation, including 270 trees.

The pedestrian bridge would have spanned the Thames between the Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge, near landmarks like the Tate Modern. Plans called for the bridge to be covered with vegetation, including 270 trees, and the structure would have been plated with nickel-copper cladding that supporters said would have been maintenance-free for 120 years.

The bridge, designed by Heatherwick Studio with help from engineers at Arup and landscape architect Dan Pearson, was originally slated to be completed in 2018. Last year, the Trust awarded the construction contract to a joint venture of Bouygues Travaux Publics and Cimolai SpA, and said it planned for the bridge to open in 2019.

Cost Concerns

The Garden Bridge would have been the world’s most expensive pedestrian bridge, and supporters predicted it would become a tourist destination for visitors from around the world. Former London Mayor Boris Johnson signed onto the project, but public opinion on the bridge soured amid ballooning costs and funding uncertainties.

The Trust said in its announcement that it had been engaged in talks with a benefactor who was interested in funding construction, but that the benefactor and the Trust “concluded that they cannot proceed with what was always designed to be a public project in the heart of the capital without the support of the Mayor of London.”

Garden Bridge
Rendering: Arup

The now-scrapped project cost London taxpayers an estimated 37.4 million pounds, and according to former Member of Parliament Margaret Hodge, it could cost millions more before all is said and done.

Khan dropped the city’s guarantees of support in April after a report released in March by former Member of Parliament Margaret Hodge questioned the project’s feasibility. Hodge said in her report that the bridge relied too heavily on corporate support, had lost two major donors and hadn’t garnered any new major donors since August 2016.

Hodge said that in addition to the 37.4 million pounds of taxpayer money already invested in the project, the bridge, even if scrapped, would put the city out an additional 9 million pounds.

Garden Bridge Trust chair Lord Mervyn Davies called Hodge’s report “one-sided” and “full of errors.”

Prior to the Hodge report, Khan had said that he didn’t support pulling out of the bridge project because of the money that had already been sunken into it, but after the Hodge report, he decided that it would be too risky to invest even more.

"Londoners will, like me, be very angry that London taxpayers have now lost tens of millions of pounds,” Khan said, “committed by the previous mayor on a project that has amounted to nothing."

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; EU; Europe; Funding; Government; Program/Project Management

Comment from Richard Smith, (8/15/2017, 3:12 AM)

Mixed emotions. If you had "sensible people" in charge at the time, there would never have been the Eiffel Tower in Paris, for example. Would it have been special for London? Probably. Many of the costs have been a chain-reaction of admin. proliferation (?)


Comment from Simon Hope, (8/15/2017, 5:58 AM)

Here we have a typical spat with two opposite political parties trying to score points off each other and throw the blame around, as always totally childish behaviour that ends up costing the tax payer dearly for the usual big fat zero!


Comment from peter gibson, (8/15/2017, 2:48 PM)

Always thought that the" green" bridge was a dumb concept. No end to these ridiculous green ideas.This one flopped for sure.


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