LONDON – A Singapore investment company will build a 60 million-pound ($97 million), kilometer-long (half-mile) walkway on the River Thames in time for the 2012 Olympic summer games, the city's mayor said Friday.
Boris Johnson said the pontoon would enable pedestrians to stroll on the Thames from central London to the Tower of London, where the capital's financial district meets the storied East End.
Detailed plans have not been submitted but the walkway will include commercial attractions such as exhibitions, rented event space and vendors. The Venus Group, an asset management company, will give the city of London 30 percent of net revenues in exchange for permission to build the walkway.
Although packed with tourist attractions such as St. Paul's Cathedral and the 200-foot (62-meter) -tall Monument, the north side of the famous river is only intermittently accessible via disjointed pathways. London's south bank, which hosts the Tate Modern and the National Theatre, has a broad pedestrian walkway, a dramatic view, and is regularly choked with tourists.
Johnson says the 40-foot (12-meter) -wide pontoon would allow easy access along the riverside, saying in a statement that he would work "to ensure that one of the most famous and cherished waterfronts in the world is enhanced for the benefit of our great capital."
Mock-ups of what the floating walkway would be like showed a sturdy, fenced-off pontoon hugging the riverbank and punctuated with small trees. Ramps would connect the walkway to the shore in about ten different places, according to a map of the prospective project.
The pontoon would also host eight themed pavilions which could be used for hosting events atop the Thames, Johnson said. A mock-up showed one resembling a crystal bubble with dramatic views of London's Tower Bridge and the capital's egg-shaped City Hall.
Raphael G. Satter can be reached at: http://twitter.com/razhael