Second crossing over Thames selected

Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group

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Published: 19th April 2017

This Article was Written by: Richard Furlong - City Surveys Group


The preferred route for the construction of a second crossing of the Thames east of the Capital has been selected by the Department for Transport (DfT) to ease the burden carried by the existing Dartford Crossing.

Currently, more than 55 million journeys are made by the Dartford Crossing every year – 6 million more than it was originally intended for. A well-known commuter blackspot, it is the site of daily incidents and closures.

It is expected that a second Lower Thames Crossing will carry well over 4 million heavy goods vehicles in its first year of operation, significantly reducing congestion on the Dartford Crossing.

The new route will travel between Gravesend and Tilbury, crossing the river by means of a tunnel. It will run from the M25 near North Ockenden and rejoin the M2 near Shorne.

The route was one of two presented for public consultation by Highways England in January last year. The consultation received the biggest ever response for a UK road project with over 47,000 responses.

The majority of respondents opted for the Gravesend-Tilbury rote over a second crossing close to Dartford. A third route, via the Swanscombe Peninsula, was previously scrapped after developers on the £3.2 billion Paramount Resort project objected.

Highways England state the preferred route will have the least impact on community and environment but there has been opposition from campaigners who object to it cutting through greenbelt land, in particular woodland at Shorne Country Park, and close to homes and schools.

Adam Holloway, MP for Gravesend, said: “It’s a crazy idea. They (DfT) have no numbers on what portion of this traffic is national, and what is regional.”

Robin Theobald, chair of Shorne Parish Council, echoed Mr Holloway’s feelings when he said it was ‘not a day for celebrations.’

Highways England said the route had been ‘optimised’ following the consultation and moved east slightly to avoid residential areas.

Chief executive of Highways England, Jim O’Sullivan, said: “The decision for a new crossing east of Gravesend and Tilbury is underpinned by years of studies, assessments and careful consideration of the record breaking response to our 2016 consultation.

“As we progress there will be further consultation and opportunities to be part of shaping the detail for the area, now and for future generations.”

Transport secretary, Chris Grayling added: “The new Lower Thames Crossing, and other improvements in and around Dartford and Thurrock announced today, will further strengthen our economy while also creating thousands of jobs.”

The new 70mph route will be 13 miles long and run beneath the Thames at a cost of £6bn; on completion it will increase capacity for traffic crossing the Thames east of London by up to 70%. It will be the first new river tunnel for London in 26 years – coincidentally the Dartford Crossing was the last.

Highways England will spend a further £66m widening the A13 Stanford-le-Hope bypass to three lanes, improving links to Tilbury and the surrounding area.

The Transport Secretary has also promised to spend up to £10 million tackling congestion on the existing Dartford Crossing.

The project is forecast to create up to 6,000 jobs and boost the UK economy by £8bn but is not expected to commence anytime soon. It could be ten years before a second Lower Thames Crossing carries its first vehicles but Highways England stress it will be built to the highest safety standards using the most up-to-date engineering and technology available to it.

Highways England said: “We anticipate the new crossing would be open in 2025, if publicly funded. If private funding is also used to meet the costs of the project, we anticipate the crossing being open by 2027.”

The selected Gravesend-Tilbury route is still subject to planning permission.

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