The existing river crossing capacity in the lower Thames area—the Dartford-Thurrock crossing—is operating above the capacity it was designed for, and there is already serious congestion at the crossing with negative consequences for business productivity and the national economy. This crossing forms a key route within the strategic road network. It completes the orbital route of the M25 around London and provides the only Thames river crossing east of London. In addition, the Dartford-Thurrock crossing is located in the Thames Gateway area, where we expect substantial redevelopment and growth.
We therefore propose that a second crossing should be built across the Lower Thames and I am today publishing a consultation document inviting views on the relative merits of three options for locating a new road-based river crossing in the Lower Thames area and a variant of one of these three options.
The three options are:
Option A—at the site of the existing A282 Dartford-Thurrock river crossing;
Option B—connecting the A2 with the A1089; and
Government are committed to tackling the congestion at the Dartford-Thurrock crossing and will improve traffic flows by introducing free flow charging technology to replace the existing cash charge collection and extensive toll plazas. However, even with these improvements there will be a future need for additional river crossing capacity. That is why Government identified a new lower Thames crossing as one of its top 40 infrastructure projects in the national infrastructure plan 2011 and committed to reviewing and consulting on options for locating the new crossing.
The technical analysis undertaken for and by my Department is now complete. It has confirmed the need for additional road based river crossing capacity and concluded that that all three options—including one with the variant—would accommodate additional traffic growth and reduce congestion at the existing crossing albeit to varying extents. In addition, the review has concluded that it would technically be feasible to deliver a scheme at all of the options.
The consultation document and related technical reports, which I am publishing today, set out the findings of the technical analysis for the three options considered and the variant. It presents information about the impacts of providing a crossing at each of the options and invites views from all interested parties.
The responses received to this consultation will be analysed and interpreted to help inform our decision on where to locate a new crossing. In weighing up the relative merits of the alternate locations, Government will need to consider the relative economic, environmental and social impacts as well as the potential cost, affordability and value for money.
This is the first stage of decision making. Subject to the decision on location, work will commence on the development of a scheme at the selected location and this will involve further consultation.
I am pleased to announce that the consultation will run from
Department for Transport officials will also be available to answer questions with public information events on the following dates: