Traffic forecasts published by Highways England reveal that plans to build a new Lower Thames Crossing east of Gravesend will do nothing to ease congestion on the M25 at Dartford.
Traffic on the M25 is frequently delayed by up to an hour at Dartford, often held up by HGVs queuing to be escorted through the outdated tunnels under the Thames.
And yet Highways England’s forecasts show that even with a new £5 billion crossing at Gravesend, traffic volumes at Dartford will still be over 98% of the current level of 140,000 vehicles a day, and are expected to increase to over 150,000 vehicles a day by 2041. The crossing capacity is just 135,000 vehicles a day.
The Dartford Crossing is one of the busiest and most unreliable stretches of road in the Britain, suffering over 300 closures a year. Part of the reason is that M25 traffic has to share the approach roads with local and non-motorway traffic, and traffic has to be stopped frequently to allow large HGVs and petrol tankers to be escorted through the tunnels.
Despite these problems, Highways England have no plans to improve this vital link on the national motorway network.
Highways England have dismissed an ambitious £6 billion plan to build a new, 4.6 mile dual tunnel linking the M25 north and south of the river, which would completely bypass the existing crossing and link roads. This would finally complete the M25 motorway, and divert all through traffic away from the existing crossing, reducing traffic at Dartford by at least 40%.
But Highways England claim that this would not create any positive benefit to the national economy.
Lower Thames Crossing Association, a campaign group based in Kent, said: “Highways England seem to be missing the bigger picture. By doing nothing at Dartford, they are consigning users of the M25 and the people of Dartford to decades of continuing delays and misery. This impedes business and acts as a brake on the national economy.”
(A copy of Highways England’s traffic forecasts is attached to this press release.)
Note to Editors: Lower Thames Crossing Association is an organisation established to oppose Lower Thames Crossing options east of Gravesend, and to promote solutions which provide the maximum relief from congestion and pollution. Please visit our website at https://www.ltca.org.uk.