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London to bury congestion problem?

London traffic officials are considering a radical new plan for easing congestion and improving living conditions around the capital's busy roads. A £30 billion programme of measures is being considered, which includes proposals to cover over sections of busy roads.

London traffic officials are considering a radical new plan for easing congestion and improving living conditions around the capital's busy roads. A £30 billion programme of measures is being considered, which includes proposals to cover over sections of busy roads.

This would allow pedestrian access across the top of the newly covered roads, along with some pedestrian friendly development. The specific roads being mentioned are parts of the A12 in east London and stretches of the North Circular and South Circular Roads. This would make way for cycle paths and parks to be built on these roofs. The proposals include further radical reforms such as building new toll roads and constructing new river crossings.

More flexible road pricing is also being suggested. This would take into account how far a car was driven in London, not just if it crosses into the congestion charge area. The London Mayor's office does insist that this is a last resort measure. The plans have been drawn up by the Roads Task Force, an independent body set up to consider how London will respond to a population that is expected to increase to more than 10 million over the next 20 years.

The road roofing idea may not be as odd as it sounds. A similar project has already been completed in Paris, which has seen stretches of the 'Peripherique' orbital road being covered over and used for parks and other enhancements. This also has the effect of reconnecting parts of the city that have been sliced apart by busy roads.

The investment required to construct these roofed roads would be partially funded by the developers who would then build on the new land being created. London Mayor Boris Johnson is also considering opening up bus lanes to normal traffic when congestion is particularly bad. Further proposals include the pedestrianisation of notoriously busy areas like Elephant and Castle. Cycling and walking would also be encouraged by extending 20mph zones.

The proposals have been broadly welcomed by business lobby group, London First, whose chief executive, Baroness Valentine, commented: "London's roads are vital to businesses, which need reliable access to customers, supplies and staff. Bold ideas such as 'flyunders' and smarter road charging are common in other global cities and we encourage TfL to examine how they might now work in London."

It remains to be seen whether Londoner's will be walking on top of their busy roads in the near future.
 

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