The city of London is famed for countless things, including its many ways to traverse the River Thames. As well as its many underground routes, the city has been a hub for bridge construction; with any view down the river beset with steel beams of all shapes, sizes, and colors. From the grand spires of Tower Bridge to the twisting metalwork of Millennium Bridge, the city displays many structural and architectural marvels. London’s civil engineers are aiming to outdo themselves once again; now they are releasing designs for what would be the largest vertical lift bridge in the world, which is slated to be built across the Thames.

The designs outline the dimensions for the construction, with a planned length of 180 meters, meaning it would be 10 meters longer than the Arthur Kill bridge in New York, currently the longest lift bridge in the world. In addition, the proposed feat of engineering would be 90 meters tall and 15 meters wide, with a deck capable of rising to a height of 60 meters to allow boats to pass underneath. It would enable both cyclists and pedestrians to cross, linking the Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf areas of London, and consequently, has been tentatively named the ‘Rotherhithe Crossing’.

Of course, any such structure would be costly to put together, considering the vast amount of resources and labor that would be required. Everything from the colossal metal stanchions enabling the lift to work effectively to the smallest components holding everything together, like the structural bolts provided through, would need to be accounted for. There is also the cost of labor, with the expense of a large number of construction workers employed over the course of several months. So far, the project would carry an overall cost between £300 and £400 million for the London taxpayer.

Understandably, this has prompted the city’s transport authority, TFL, to explore less expensive alternatives for crossing the river in the Rotherhithe area of the city. The most popular has been a proposal put forward by the river bus company Thames Clippers, to introduce a regular ferry shuttle service, with each boat carrying a maximum of 150 passengers and departing around every three minutes. The ferry would be accessible from both sides of the river. Given that this proposal would only cost around £30 million, a tenth of the suggested expense of the Rotherhithe Crossing, it is self-explanatory that TFL may consider the ferry service an attractive option.

Ultimately, the people of London may be the ones to have the final say over which proposal is accepted, as a public consultation on the vertical-lift Rotherhithe Crossing has been planned for later in 2019. If the project is deemed too unpopular among Londoners, then the ferry service may be the most likely option for crossing the Thames. If the vertical-lift proposal is accepted, however, the view of London’s famous waterway from some parts of the city may become entirely transformed in a matter of months.

By palmora