Architecture

Subterranean roads proposed for greener London

Subterranean roads proposed fo...
Proposals have been unveiled that would see roads in London covered to make room for development and green space above ground
Proposals have been unveiled that would see roads in London covered to make room for development and green space above ground
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Proposals have been unveiled that would see roads in London covered to make room for development and green space above ground
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Proposals have been unveiled that would see roads in London covered to make room for development and green space above ground
The current layout of the A3 in Tolworth
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The current layout of the A3 in Tolworth
The proposed layout of the A3 in Tolworth
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The proposed layout of the A3 in Tolworth
The current layout of the A13 in Barking
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The current layout of the A13 in Barking
The proposed layout of the A13 in Barking
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The proposed layout of the A13 in Barking
The current layout of the A406 in Southgate
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The current layout of the A406 in Southgate
The proposed layout of the A406 in Southgate
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The proposed layout of the A406 in Southgate

Fresh from being the subject of an idea to move its pedestrians and cyclists below ground, London might now see the same happen to its motorists. New proposals would see a number of the city's roads buried. The aim is to create new space above ground and make the city greener and more pleasant.

The proposal was announced by Mayor of London Boris Johnson during a recent visit to Boston, US, where a similar project has taken place. The Central Artery-Tunnel Project (nicknamed the "Big Dig") saw Boston's existing six-lane elevated Central Artery replaced with an eight-lane underground highway.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Big Dig was the "largest, most complex, and technologically challenging highway project in the history of the United States." It is said to have significantly reduced congestion, improved the environment and led to regeneration above ground.

The Greater London Authority says that over 70 sites across London have been considered for the potential introduction of tunnels, fly-unders and decking, the renderings for some of which can be viewed in our gallery.

Among the suggestions, a fly-under has been proposed for the A4 in Hammersmith that would reconnect the town center with the River Thames. A mini tunnel has been proposed for the the A13 in Barking Riverside, meanwhile, on the basis that it could open up a significant amount of land for future development and reconnect parts of the local area.

The proposed layout of the A3 in Tolworth
The proposed layout of the A3 in Tolworth

Decking over a section of the A3 in Tolworth would create land for new homes and connect the area adjacent to the new Crossrail station with the rest of the borough. And the addition of decking or a mini tunnel to the A406 in New Southgate would also create space for new homes and connect the surrounding area to the new Crossrail station.

Elsewhere, there is discussion about a potential replacement for the London Inner Ring Road. Johnson believes that an inner orbital tunnel or two cross-city tunnels could help to deliver more efficient and reliable movement of vehicles around the city.

Transport for London will now work with local London boroughs to develop the proposal. Costs and funding options will be explored before the proposal is revisited in May of this year.

Sources: Greater London Authority, Massachusetts Department of Transportation

6 comments
Jeffrey A. Edwards
Great idea . . . until the first major accident! Have you been stuck in a tunnel with other vehicles for any length of time? Come to Seattle to see how 'effective' tunneling is where the tunnel boring machine 'Bertha' is currently stuck!
Techtwit
How much fuel would have to be burned to generate the power needed to ventilate these tunnels to ensure drivers didn't drown in a sea of noxious fumes?
hearthhealth
The idea of putting motor vehicles underground is to be lauded. It is far more practical to leave the changing of grade to road users with motors. It also makes sense since most of the long-term vehicle parking downtown is itself below grade. The only things motorists would lose is the chance to terrorize pedestrians and cyclists.
JPAR
Don't forget that exhaust emissions are reducing all the time as engines become cleaner, and by the time these tunnels are finished, most vehicles will probably be using electric motors to hydrogen fuel cells.
Germano Pecoraro
This solution remember me the film "Metropolis" di Friz Lang 1929!
Jacob Shepley
I like this idea. it would give the potential for vehicles to travel in 3 dimensions (underground tunnels can ramp up and down to bypass one another) rather than surface-roadways which are mostly limited to 2 dimensions where roads intersect each other constantly. forget flying cars for 3D travel. go underground.