London’s cityscape is about to get a huge makeover thanks to the $275.3 million Garden Bridge that will be constructed over the Thames river from Temple tube station to the South Bank. Last night, a meeting of the Westminster Council voted three to one to greenlight Thomas Heatherwick's 1,204-foot pedestrian bridge, with claims that it will be the “most expensive footbridge in the world."
Expected to open in 2018, the proposed Garden Bridge will be set in front of ITV studios, and will be planted with trees and flora to improve environmental impact in the area. The Mayor of London has supported the project saying it “will create new opportunities for walking in Central London...support economic development on both sides of the river...generate health benefits through an increase in the number of people walking...create a new London icon and visitor attraction...[and] will enrich the quality of life for residents, commuters and visitors.”
However there has been extreme opposition to the bridge by locals. Environmentalists are upset that the cutting down of mature trees on the river banks for construction will do more harm than good—even if 270 new trees will be planted along Garden Bridge. And the fact that the Temple tube station will be closed for six months due to construction does not sit well with most commuters.
Many are concerned that the bridge, which is already considered more ornamental than functional, will create unnecessary traffic in the area, with lines expected to form just to cross the bridge. But funded and backed by the U.K. government, Transport for London and private donors, others are seeing the bridge as an improvement to the city.