Mr Paul Carter CBE
Kent County Council
Kent ME14 1XQ
30th October 2018
Dear Mr Carter
Re: Lower Thames Crossing Considerations
Members of the Lower Thames Crossing Association met with Gravesham MP Adam Holloway and local Borough and County Councillors recently to discuss our initial review of the latest plans for the Lower Thames Crossing, and to identify our main concerns. Clearly there is still a lot of detail to study, but our initial principal concerns include the following:
Whilst the group welcomes the extension of the tunnel to the south of the A226 at Chalk, we do not feel that it is sufficient, and we want to press Highways England to extend it further. We are aware that they considered extending the tunnel by up to 1200 metres, but in the end it has been extended by just 600 metres. There is no insurmountable technical reason why the tunnel cannot be extended further, it appears to be down to a matter of cost. We feel that the permanent impact on people in Chalk and other parts of Gravesham should be given greater consideration, and should not be dismissed on the grounds of cost. Even a modest 100 or 200 metre extension, with landscaping and tree planting between the A226 and the portal, would make a tremendous difference to the residents of Gravesham.
Thong Lane Crossing
LTCA has been pressing Highways England for a cut-and-cover green bridge either side of Thong Lane to give the residents in Thong and Riverview Park some degree of protection from the traffic on the main approach road. We were hoping for at least 50 metres and preferably 100 metres on either side of Thong Lane. However, what Highways England call a “green bridge” is little more than a slightly widened flyover with a grass verge along the side. Cynics could be forgiven for thinking that this is no more than a provision for future widening of Thong Lane. In view of the close proximity to houses, we feel that greater consideration should be given to the impact on residents in Thong and Riverview Park/Shorne West, and that the “green bridge” should be widened significantly at this location.
Residents from Gravesend East are extremely concerned that they will lose their direct access to the A2 and M2. In future, motorists wishing to get from Gravesend East to the M2 or the Medway Towns will be expected to negotiate a convoluted link road with up to 7 roundabouts to join the A2 at Shorne. This has the potential to create ‘rat-runs’ as drivers seek alternate routes, and will also severely impact people from Shorne. Even before the crossing is built, drivers exiting the A2 eastbound heading towards Shorne find it difficult to turn right into Brewers Road. This will be made much more difficult with the increased volume of traffic joining the A2 from Gravesend East. We would like Highways England to revisit the design to simplify access from Gravesend East to the A2 eastbound.
Local Traffic and ‘Rat-runs’
Despite spending the last 2 years refining the design, we are disappointed that Highways England have still not produced any meaningful information on the impact on traffic volumes on local roads through places like Thong, Shorne, Cobham, and Sole Street, or on the A227 through Meopham and Istead Rise. It is absolutely essential that this work is carried out and published before the DCO application is submitted, and measures considered with KCC to alleviate any adverse impacts.
At a parliamentary briefing Highways England gave to local MPs on 16th July 2018, Project Director Tim Jones said that traffic impact on local roads was not their problem, it was an issue for Kent County Council. Adam Holloway suggested that a meeting should be arranged between yourself, Mr Jones, and Mr Holloway to discuss local traffic concerns. We do hope that this meeting takes place sooner rather than later.
These are just a few of our principal concerns, but no doubt other issues will come to light as the documents are studied in greater detail. Whilst we appreciate that Kent County Council needs to take a considered approach, we do hope that you will include the concerns outlined above in KCC’s consultation response, and that you will join us in pressing Highways England to take these issues into consideration at every opportunity.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. You will of course be aware that we do not agree that a crossing located east of Gravesend is the right solution and that it will not resolve the problems at Dartford, but we are resigned to the fact that the decision has been made and there is little we can do to change what is in effect a fait accompli.
It is therefore in our interests to work with all parties to ensure that the crossing works properly not just for strategic traffic and users of the crossing, but also for local residents and businesses wishing to go about their normal day-to-day activities. It is also in our interests to press for the maximum mitigation for the thousands of local people whose lives will be permanently impacted by the crossing.
We therefore hope you will give these issues your most serious consideration.
On behalf of Lower Thames Crossing Association