Lower Thames Crossing

For the past 50 years the Dartford Crossing has provided the only road link across the River Thames east of London. A new crossing is needed to alleviate congestion and support economic growth.

Region:  South East
Start date:  TBC
Cost:  TBC
Type:  Major Scheme
End date:  TBC
Programme:  

What impact will this have on my journey?

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Progress report

Between 26 January and 24 March 2016 we consulted on proposals for a new Lower Thames Crossing, a new road crossing connecting Kent and Essex.

More than 47,000 people took part in the consultation, making it the largest ever public consultation for a UK road project.

View closed consultation

What next

We are analysing responses and reporting our findings to the Department for Transport. We are expecting government to make a decision later this year on the preferred route and location of the crossing.

Timeline

Date Event
2009 Study of 5 Lower Thames crossing options
2011 National Infrastructure Plan includes Lower Thames Crossing as a top 40 priority infrastructure project
2012 Study into 3 remaining options
2013 (May 2013) Department for Transport public consultation (Dec 2013) Announces decision not to proceed with Option B
15 July 2014 Government publishes response to consultation and commissions Highways England to assess the remaining two options.
2016 Lower Thames Crossing Route Consultation

Why we need this scheme

The existing crossing is full to capacity for much of the time. It is one of the least reliable sections of the UK’s road network of motorways and major roads. Users regularly experience delays and unreliable journeys. During incidents the congestion at the crossing quickly backs up to affect local roads and the major roads in and out of London.

This affects productivity, constraining business and depriving the region of economic growth. Improvements would produce significant economic benefits locally, regionally and nationally.

Dart Charge has improved journey times since opening but we have also seen increased usage of the crossing. It only provides a shorter-term solution. Incidents will still cause major delays and, as traffic volumes increase further, congestion will return to pre-Dart Charge levels within the next ten years.

Something needs to be done now to alleviate the problems in the long term and prepare for the future.

Dartford Crossing at capacity

For 50 years, the Dartford Crossing has provided the only road link across the Thames east of London.

Dartford Crossing is one of the busiest roads in the country, used 50 million times a year by commuters, business travellers, haulage companies, emergency services and holidaymakers.

The crossing:

  • connects communities and businesses
  • provides a vital link between the Channel ports, London and the rest of the UK
  • is essential to the provision of reliable services and goods
  • enables local businesses to operate effectively
  • provides access for local residents to housing, jobs, leisure and retail facilities on both sides of the river

The scheme in detail

Following a thorough assessment and evaluation, we recommended a new road crossing through a bored tunnel crossing. We developed three route options north of the river in Essex and two south of the river in Kent.

Our proposed solution was a dual carriageway connecting junction 1 of the M2 to the M25 between junctions 29 and 30. This crosses under the River Thames just east of Gravesend and Tilbury.

Of our potential options, this route would provide a 70mph motorway-to-motorway connection with the greatest improvement in journey times and a modern, high quality road along its entire length.

The-route-of-the-proposed-option-1-2

In 2009 the Department for Transport (DfT) commissioned a study identifying five locations for a crossing to potentially alleviate congestion at the existing Dartford Crossing. The two most easterly of these were found to be too far from the existing crossing to ease the problems at Dartford and were eliminated from further consideration.

In 2012 the DfT commissioned a study to assess three remaining location options:

  • Option A: located close to the existing crossing
  • Option B: connecting the A2 Swanscombe Peninsula with the A1089
  • Location Option C: connecting the A2/M2 with the M25 between junctions 29 and 30
  • Location Option C variation: which would additionally widen the A229 between the M2 and M20

In 2013 the DfT held a public consultation inviting views on:

  • the need for a crossing
  • where to locate a new crossing

Later that year the government announced its decision not to proceed with location option B because of the impact on local development plans and the limited transport benefits.

The government published its response to the consultation in July 2014, confirming that there is a need for an additional crossing between Essex and Kent, but that there was no consensus about where it should be.

The government then commissioned Highways England to carry out a more detailed assessment of the remaining options (A and C), which led to a public consultation which took place from 26 January to 24 March 2016. We asked for views on proposals for a tunnel under the Thames located east of Gravesend and Tilbury, with three possible route options north of the river, and two south of the river.

You can still view the consultation materials.

Responses are being analysed and will be incorporated into our recommendation to Government. A decision will be made by the Government, expected later this year.

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