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Picture from Andrew Baker/Newham Council
Together at last
By Angela Saini
There are plans to bring Newham and Tower Hamlets closer together by building forty more bridges across the River Lea in time for the 2012 Olympics. The two boroughs have marked these regeneration plans with some ‘virtual bridges’
The narrow and winding River Lea has always been a physical barrier between Newham and Tower Hamlets. With the 2012 Olympic Games approaching, the Olympic Delivery Authority is funding the construction of around 40 bridges across the Lea in the area of the Olympic Park, of which around 20 will remain after the games are finished. There are currently 12 bridges in the area, but few of them are suitable for pedestrians or cyclists.
Planned locations for the new bridges include Old Ford, Three Mills, Ailsa Street and Leamouth Peninsular. New footbridges, cycle and vehicle bridges promise to cut down walking time to train stations and bus routes around the area. For example the bridge at Leamouth could cut walking times from the Peninsular to Canning Town Station by ten minutes.
An excuse for a party
The plans for the new bridges were celebrated at an event at Three Mills, a creative cluster in Newham, with ‘virtual bridges’. 'Bridging the Lea – A legacy for 2012' featured spectacular virtual bridges made of sound, light and water, representing the connection across the Lea. A performer also crossed a shallow stretch of the river on a high wire.
Virtual stepping stones over the Lea
Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, said: “These spectacular virtual structures will underline the need to build real bridges in the Olympic Park in order to unite communities that have been divided for years by the network of roads, railway lines, rivers and canals that thread their way through the Lower Lea Valley.”
Denise Jones, Leader of Tower Hamlets Council said:” As we prepare to help stage the world's biggest sporting event in 2012, it is important that the five Olympics' host boroughs work together to bring the best possible opportunities from the Games to this area of London."
last updated: 27/12/2007 at 13:09