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27/01/2016

Tunnel proposed for Lower Thames crossing

Words: Laura Edgar
Gravesend

The government has announced a proposal for a new multi-billion pound road link to cross the River Thames between Essex and Kent.

The government said the link road would unlock “massive” economic benefits for the region, and the whole country, as well as relieve congestion at the Dartford Crossing.

Two locations for a bridge or tunnel were shortlisted in 2013: Option A was one near the existing Dartford Crossing while Option C linked the M2 with the M25 via the A13, with variant of this that would see a further link to the M20. Since then, the government explained, Highways England has been carrying out work with a range of stakeholders to assess the options and develop routes for each location.

Highways England recommends a new crossing at Option C, through a bored tunnel.

The scheme would run from the end of the M2, crossing the river just east of Gravesend and Tilbury and joining the M25 between junctions 29 and 30.

Roads minister Andrew Jones expressed the government’s commitment to delivering a Lower Thames crossing aimed at increasing capacity and providing “better, faster journeys across the Thames”.

“Once complete, it could add over £7 billion to the economy by increasing investment and business opportunities, and create over 5,000 new jobs nationally,” he said.

Highways England has identified three routes for the new road to the north of the river and two routes to the south of the river.

Martin Potts, Highways England senior project manager, said the decision on where the road is a “vitally important”.

“Our assessments have shown that Location C provides double the economic benefits of Location A as well as a clear alternative route to the Dartford Crossing, reducing congestion and improving resilience of the road network. And by choosing a tunnel rather than a bridge we can minimise the effects of the new road on the environment.”

A consultation on the proposals has begun, and is open until 24 March. There will be 24 public exhibitions, held at venues across Kent and Essex.

More information about the proposals and the public exhibitions can be found here.

Image credit | iStock

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