Lower Thames Crossing

Click here for links to the consultation and campaign groups

Where we are ( a brief history)

The first Dartford Tunnel was opened in November 1963 and replaced the vehicle ferry between Gravesend and Tilbury. It soon exceeded capacity and a second tunnel was added in 1980.

The M25 connected to the tunnels, via the A282, in 1982 (Essex side) and 1986 (Kent side). It was expected that the traffic load would be spread across further crossings nearer London, but these did not happen. Due to the increasing traffic a bridge was opened in October 1991.

Tolls were put on the crossing from opening day (12.5p) and toll booths increased to 13 per side. After funding for construction was met, it was expected that the tolls would be removed in April 2003, but there was a change of heart and the tolls remained. In 2015 the tolls were changed from a stop-and-pay system (with Dart Tag capability) to a free flow Congestion Charge scheme (6am to 10pm). However growth in traffic and the problems this caused for local areas, especially when there were accidents or the weather meant the bridge had to be limited or closed, led to calls for a scheme to add more capacity across the Thames.

Highways England (HE), formerly the Highways Agency led investigations. The routes considered were:

Option A - Improvements at the Dartford Crossing (additional tunnel or bridge)
Option B - New crossing from Swanscombe Peninsula
Option C - New crossing from east of Gravesend (Chalk)
Option D - New crossing with two variants either side of Cliffe
Option E - New crossing from Sheerness to Canvey Island

Options D & E were discarded due to the environmental impacts and cost of crossing the Thames Estuary at these points. There were further consultations on options A,B and C in 2013 - with option C being favoured by Essex and Kent County Councils - although the consultation indicated that option A was more cost effective (during the consultation the government indicated that they had dropped option B (Ebbsfleet Garden City and the Paramount development would have been impacted). It has taken longer than expected to announce Highways England's preferred route - and the announcement in early 2016 was a bombshell to residents around option C.

The preferred HE (option C) route had two alternative routes south of the Thames - a long route from the end of the M2 , through Higham and Shorne to the crossing at Chalk and one direct from the A2 through Thong and alongside Gravesend's Riverview Park estate.

There are multiple routes to the north of the river, but all go through the Thurrock Unitary Council area, who object to both option A and C.

Consultation on the routes (INCUDING OPTION A) closes on 24th March 2016. Then HE will submit their proposal to government. If accepted there will be more detailed investigation into the issues and a more detailed technical route plan which will go to consultation later. The last stage will be a Planning Application for the proposal.

WEB site maintained by Chris Fribbins, Vice Chair DCPS email chris@fribbins.cix.co.uk
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