The government believes a new road crossing of the Thames is needed to relieve congestion on the existing Dartford-Thurrock M25 crossing and to support growth in the Thames Gateway.
The idea of a crossing between Swanscombe and Grays crossing near Tilbury docks, some 5km to the east of the existing Dartford crossing, has now been abandoned for fear that it would stymie development in the area.
A consultation on three options was launched in May 2013. These were
- Option A at the site of the existing A282 Dartford-Thurrock crossing;
- Option B to connect the A2 Swanscombe Peninsula with the A1089;
- Option C to connect the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30; and a variant to Option C that would additionally widen the A229 between the M2 and M20.
Following the consultation, option B has been dropped but options A and C will remain under investigation.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We had over 5,700 responses to the consultation and we have carefully considered each of them. Ruling out the least attractive option now gives some clarity for local residents and businesses.
“We are committed to making a decision on the location of the new crossing as soon as possible, but we recognise that whatever crossing location is chosen it will have significant impact for people in the area and the economy. These are tough decisions to be made and must not be taken lightly.”
Feedback on the consultation showed that Option B received limited support and would frustrate plans for development in the area, the Department for Transport said.
While studies into the two route options continue, the Highways Agency has started making preparations so that the crossing can be delivered as quickly as possible once the location has been decided.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) voiced frustration at the slowness of the whole process. Head of road network management policy Malcolm Bingham said: “FTA believes that today’s announcement brings us no closer to building the much needed new Lower Thames Crossing. There is absolutely no doubt that improving capacity and easing congestion at Dartford is essential.
“After consulting with our members on what the best crossing would be, it was widely considered that Option C would bring the most benefits to the freight industry, and would help tackle congestion at Dartford, and therefore we feel that today’s announcement is simply slowing down the process”.
The route options