As it looks to become a prettier, greener city, London wants to put some of its more unsightly features where the world can’t see them: underground.
Under plans recently announced by mayor Boris Johnson, the British capital would cover over five major highways, opening up land for new, less ugly development. The proposals involve building tunnels, deck structures, “fly-unders,” and cover roads in the west, south, and north of the city.
“Rebuilding some of our complex and aging road network underneath our city would not only provide additional capacity for traffic, but it would also unlock surface space and reduce the impact of noise and pollution,” Johnson said in a press release.
London was one of the first cities in the world to introduce an inner-city tolling system (known as “congestion charge” pricing), and Johnson says new tolls on the latest schemes would help offset the cost.
If Boston is any guide, he’ll need all the money he can get. Its $14.6 billion “Big Dig” project has been beset by budget overruns, delays, and various structural issues. Digging in a busy place isn’t easy, especially if you want avoid disturbing existing traffic.
Still, London’s plans have a logic. Nobody wants to look, smell or hear roads when they could live next to a nice bit of greenery.