3D rendering of the new South Dock Bridge

New South Dock Bridge Coming Soon to Canary Wharf

The next time you visit Canary Wharf in London, you might just find there is a new pedestrian bridge in the area.  The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is leading the delivery of the project which is expected to open sometime in 2024.

The existing South Quay Footbridge, which connects Canary Wharf with the Isle of Dogs, is approaching its capacity at peak times in terms of comfort levels.  With development booming on the Isle of Dogs and new rail and Tube stations set to open soon, demand to cross the dock waterway is expected to rise sharply.  Tower Hamlets expects the new bridge to become one of the busiest pedestrian bridges in London.

Proposed location of the new South Dock Bridge (courtesy of Tower Hamlets)

The Isle of Dogs was once known as Stepney Marsh, a large peninsula that is bounded on three sides by the River Thames.  For most of its history, the area has been home to the docklands of London.  In 1520, the area was known as the embarkation point for the Royal Family on their way to Calais.  The origin of the name for the area is lost to history, but some believe there was once a small island at the tip of the peninsula where Edward III kept his racing greyhound dogs.

Canary Wharf, along with the City of London, remains one of the financial epicenters for London, the United Kingdom, Europe and indeed, the world.  Home to the Museum of London Docklands, among other attractions, the area is also home to the third tallest building in the UK.  The area is across the river from the famous Cutty Sark and the O2 music venue.

Initial design for the project began in 2015 with concept and feasibility testing, with type, size and location for the bridge being identified.

Public consultation took place in 2018 with nearly 96 percent of those asked saying they were in favor of the bridge and would use it once built.  Design and appearance was identified as a high priority to residents, while segregation of pedestrians and cyclists was listed as their biggest concern.  Other takeaways from the public consultation included:

  • The bridge must be a minimum of 7.8 meters wide to be used comfortably
  • The bridge must provide a permanent navigation channel of 15 meters to allow for small craft to pass
  • The bridge must provide a movable span of 25 meters to allow taller vessels to pass
  • The opening mechanism must open the bridge quickly

The bridge will be 77 meters long and will vary in width from 8 to 15 meters over its length. In order to accommodate taller vessels, the bridge will feature a 35 meter long hydraulically actuated bascule span.  The design takes cues from the Butterfly Bridge in Copenhagen and the Lower Hatea Bridge in New Zealand.  Its completion comes after nearly 9 years of design and public consultation with planning permission being granted in December 2022.

With bascule span closed (courtesy of Tower Hamlets)
With bascule span open (courtesy of Tower Hamlets)

Overall design for the project is being led by Arcadis Consulting.  Bridge design is being handled by Knight Architects and the mechanical/electrical design by KGAL Consulting.  The bascule machinery and counterweights are housed in an abutment which is submerged below water, with the whole thing being founded on pile supported foundations.

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Nick Rodda

I am an aspiring blogger with an interest in all things bridge related. This blog is dedicated to informing readers about the latest developments in bridge engineering. Look for new posts periodically!

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