Government will start detailed planning for the new crossing of the River Thames to the east of London at two possible locations, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced yesterday.
The new crossing will cost between £1.6Bn and £3.2Bn depending on which option is chosen. The two alternatives are Option A – an additional crossing at the site of the existing Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing, and Option C – a crossing east of Gravesend (downstream from Option A) linking the A2 and M2 to the M25 via the A13, with the potential for a new upgraded link between the M2 and M20. Another option, Option B, was rejected in December last year.
A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesperson said cost of the project and start date for construction work will depend on the option selected. Option A is estimated at up to £1.6Bn, with the price of Option C estimated at up to £3.2Bn.
The DfT will now develop and appraise route options and bids for civil and structural engineering designs in detail at each location before choosing the site of the new crossing. DfT says this will not delay the delivery of a future scheme, but will allow the Highways Agency to assess the effect of its new remote payment system at the Dartford-Thurrock crossing – ‘Dart Charge’ – which will be introduced from October, and is expected to ease congestion on the approach to the crossing.
However, even with Dart Charge in place, it is anticipated that by the middle of the next decade traffic levels will be greater than the capacity of the existing crossing.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “As part of the M25 orbital route around London, the Dartford Crossing is a crucial part of the country’s strategic road network.
“We are committed to a new Lower Thames Crossing, but whichever location is chosen, it will have a big impact on people in the area and we must make the right decision.”