The Lower Thames Crossing: What is it and how can it impact you?
by William Mata | 11th October 2018
BRITAIN’S longest road tunnel is being proposed to de-congest the Dartford Crossing and provide an alternative Kent – Essex link.
Consultations started last week for designs for the £6billion Lower Thames Crossing, a 2.4-mile toll route that connects Gravesend with Tilbury.
If it goes ahead, construction would begin in 2021 and be completed by 2027 in the biggest road undertaking since the M25 opened 30 years ago.
A new road section would be built as part of the project, which ultimately creates a link between the M2 at Cobham and the M25 at North Ockendon.
The Dartford Crossing is one of the country’s worst pinch-points.
A journey from Tonbridge to Thurrock [a town to the other side of the Thames] can take up to two hours at peak time, because of crossing traffic.
At quiet times the journey can take just 40 minutes.
Proponents of the Lower Thames Crossing claim it can reduce Dartford Crossing congestion by 22 per cent by providing an alternative route.
Highways England’s project Director Tim Jones said: “For too long the Dartford Crossing has been the only way to get across the Thames east of London.
“It would almost double road capacity across the Thames cutting congestion, significantly easing pressure at the Dartford Crossing and boosting the resilience of the whole road network.”
How it could help Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge motorists remains to be seen. For traffic heading to Lakeside, west Essex or further north – Dartford would remain the most direct route.
However, it could provide an option for motorists heading to east Essex towns. It currently takes around 90 minutes to drive to Colchester, for example, but this time could come down.
An opponent Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, said: “The Lower Thames Crossing is doomed to fail even on its own terms; inducing traffic rather than reducing congestion.
“The Government’s own figures reveal the proposal will put at least an extra 55,000 vehicles a day on the county's roads.”
To take part in the consultation, visit: highwaysengland.citizenspace.com