The consultation is an opportunity for people to help shape the once-in-a-generation opportunities that the Lower Thames Crossing – Britain’s biggest road project since the M25 was built – will bring, and there is still five weeks left for people to share their views.
The Lower Thames Crossing will nearly double road capacity across the river Thames and almost halve northbound journey times at Dartford Crossing when it opens to traffic in 2027. Highways England began the country’s most comprehensive consultation into a roads project on Wednesday 10 October, and is currently half way through a consultation programme including 60 events. Over 10,000 people have attended 28 events to date.
These events have been in addition to the wide ranging online consultation, which has seen over 15,000 replies come in. The vast majority of responses so far have been online, with people from every corner of the UK engaging with the project, demonstrating how nationally important the multi-billion pound scheme will be.
The Lower Thames Crossing will connect communities, boost the economy and add vital extra resilience to the road network while reducing pressure on the existing Dartford Crossing. It is set to be the most ambitious road project since the M25 opened 30 years ago and will include the UK’s longest road tunnel.
Some 47,000 people had their say in a previous consultation on the proposals to help decide the route – a record for a UK road scheme. The current ten-week consultation on the latest designs for the improvements lasts until Thursday 20 December.
The improved proposals include:
- Making the whole route a three-lane dual carriageway to improve traffic-flow;
- A new rest and service area to the west of East Tilbury;
- A new design for the Tilbury junction, removing the proposed Tilbury link road to reduce traffic on the local road network, and;
- An improved junction with the A2.
The 14.5 mile route connecting Gravesham in Kent and Thurrock in Essex is expected to reduce traffic at Dartford by 22 per cent with 14 million fewer vehicles using it every year. It will almost halve the morning peak average journey times between M25 junctions 1b and 31 from nine minutes to just five.
David Manning, development director for Lower Thames Crossing, said: “We are pleased by the level of interest in this project, and we remain determined to ensure that everyone who has an interest in it gets the chance to have their say. That’s why we’re holding the UK’s biggest public consultation into a roads scheme, and there’s still plenty of time and various ways for you to share your views, and ask the team any questions you may have.
“The Lower Thames Crossing is the most ambitious project of its kind ever in the UK and the biggest single road upgrade since the M25 was completed more than 30 years ago. It would almost double road capacity across the Thames cutting congestion, easing pressure at the Dartford Crossing and boosting the resilience of the whole road network. This consultation is an important opportunity for people to share their views on our proposals and I urge anyone who has an interest to have their say.”
The project will create a new, three-lane dual carriageway connecting the M2 near Rochester and the M25 in Essex between North and South Ockenden. It would include a 2.4 mile-long tunnel under the Thames between Gravesend and Tilbury – the longest road tunnel in the UK – and, at over 50 feet wide, the third largest bored tunnel in the world.
Numerous measures have also been included to reduce the impact that the new road will have on local communities, including:
- Extending the tunnel so the tunnel entrance in Kent is 600 metres further south to reduce the visual impact and protect access to a community church;
- Lowering road by five to six metres in places to reduce its visual impact;
- Moving the road 80 metres further east where is passes Chadwell St Mary to increase the distance from residential properties.
The preferred route was announced in April 2017 by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. The consultation includes 25 public information events being help across Kent and Essex, as well as 30 visits to local communities to help people understand more about the proposals and put any questions directly to the project team. At each event, specialists are on hand to explain the proposed route, how it would be built and operated, and how Highways England plan to minimise the impact on the local environment and community. All information is also available online at www.lowerthamescrossing.co.uk/haveyoursay