Lower Thames Crossing

Proposals for a new road crossing connecting Kent and Essex, to relieve congestion at the Dartford Crossing and support economic growth. The decision for the preferred route is for the government and will be taken in due course, following analysis of responses to our route consultation.

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

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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

As part of our ongoing development and assessment work for the scheme, we are planning to undertake ecology surveys in the Lower Thames area, starting in spring this year. View more about the surveys.

What next

The decision on the preferred route is for the government to make and will be announced by the Secretary of State for Transport in due course.

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

Developing the scheme

We are planning to undertake ecology surveys as part of our ongoing development and assessment work for the scheme.

These surveys are an important part of understanding the wildlife’s use of the area, which will inform important design decisions. They help us to understand how we can minimise environmental impacts and protect species and habitats wherever possible. Surveys of this kind are standard practice in the early stages of projects of this nature.

We are planning to begin these surveys at a small number of selected sites in and around the Lower Thames area starting in spring this year. The government has not yet taken a decision on the preferred route and the locations for the surveys are not an indication of route preference.

For more information on the surveys, please see our factsheet.

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

For more than 50 years, the Dartford Crossing has provided the only road link across the Thames east of London. Used more than 50 million times a year, it is one of the busiest and most congested parts of the road network.

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
  • Option C: connecting the A2/M2 with the M25 between junctions 29 and 30
  • 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). At both locations we developed engineering solutions and assessed them in terms of their economic, traffic, environmental and community impacts. The assessment also took into account the significant growth and development plans for the region.

This lead to public consultation, which took place from 26 January to 24 March 2016. We proposed connecting a new route from the A2/M2 south of the river to the M25 north of the river, crossing the Thames via a tunnel just east of Gravesend and Tilbury, with three possible route options north of the river and two south of the river.

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

You can still view the consultation materials.

The decision on the preferred route is for the government to make and will be announced by the Secretary of State for Transport in due course, following thorough analysis of responses to the route consultation.

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Ecology factsheet |
2016 consultation material |

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