Highways England have launched a new public consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing. A number of changes have been made after a previous consultation. This tunnel under the Thames east of the Dartford Crossing will relieve traffic congestion on the M25 and cope with the large increase in housing and businesses east of London and in Kent/Essex.
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The Highways Agency have been developing plans for a new Thames crossing east of the Dartford Crossing. This will relieve traffic at the Dartford Crossing which is often heavily congested even after the introduction of the free-flow charging system. The Highways Agency has published revised plans for a three-lane road including a 2.4-mile long tunnel under the Thames which will be the longest in the UK.
The new crossing will link the M2 near Rochester, Kent with the M25 in Essex and will help to provide better network connections for the growing housing and business developments in Kent and improved access to the Channel ports for the rest of the country.
The proposals include some improvements to the M2/A2 which is often heavily congested although those enhancements seem somewhat limited in scope.
It is also proposed to introduce a free-flow charging system similar to that at the Dartford Crossing to which we have objected because many people fail to pay with such systems and collect a fine as a result. We suggest the crossing should be free (as the Severn bridges have been made recently), as should the Dartford one be, and as all major network routes should be.
The Department for Transport (DfT) have announced their preferred route for a new Lower Thames Crossing to relieve congestion on the Eastern side of the M25. Other options have been discarded and the chosen route is leaving the M25 at North Ockendon, via Orsett and Tilbury, a tunnel under the Thames and linking to the A2 near Shorne (the start of the M2). This route will mean that traffic from the Channel Ports will be able to avoid the Dartford Crossing area altogether. Money will also be spent on widening the A13 and on improving roads around the Dartford Crossing.
No timescale for delivery has been given and it might take as long as ten years, assuming the Government can actually find the money to build it.
As expected, not everyone is happy with the chosen route citing more air pollution, take up of green landscape and the impact on local communities. But it was always going to be a difficult choice when some action surely needed to be taken to cope with the projected extra demand on the existing river crossings. There was a large number of responses to the consultation on Route “C” to which we responded – we supported option “C” with some additional suggestions. You can see all the responses in a document on the web.
The Thames Garden Bridge in central London now looks even less likely to proceed even though £46 million has already been spent on it after a damning report commissioned by Major Sadiq Khan. Written by Labour MP Margaret Hodge it suggested the project should be scrapped. She suggested it would have difficulty raising the funds (projected cost now about £200 million) and would not be able to cover its running costs and hence might require a Government bail-out.
Comment: as in my previous report on this project, I can see many better uses for the money that spending it on this “vanity” project.