More than 47,000 people took part in a consultation for a new Lower Thames Crossing, making it the largest-ever public consultation for a UK road project.
The two-month consultation by Highways England invited views on proposed routes for the new road crossing below the Thames and east of Gravesend, known as option C.
If given the go-ahead, it would be the first Thames crossing east of London since the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge opened at Dartford 25 years ago.
More than 47,000 took part in Lower Thames Crossing public consultation, the largest-ever for a UK road project according to Highways England
Drivers were caught in tailbacks of up to six miles after a safety system failed following engineering work at the Dartford Crossing.
The northbound east tunnel was due to reopen at 05:30 BST on Monday but remained shut until about 09:30 BST, causing major traffic queues.
It has been closed overnight since 16 May for "safety-critical repairs".
Motorists were urged to allow extra time for their journeys or consider alternative routes.
Problems with a safety system that stops over height vehicles entering the tunnel meant the tunnel could not be reopened on time, according to Andrew Broughton of Highways England.
Earlier, Highways England issued a statement which said: "There are long delays on the M25 in Kent anti-clockwise due to the closure of the Dartford Crossing east tunnel.
"There are also long delays on the A2 westbound between the M2 and the junction with the M25."
Alternatively, here's our extract from the show:
Mr Kite claims that "the effect of building it [Option A14] would cause years of disruption on the existing M25 network, and bearing in mind it doesn’t work at the moment, the M25, what they’re saying is even just the construction compounds and the means to construct the tunnels would effectively jam up the M25 for years and it would mean closures; they can’t just do it at night, a project of this kind is a major 24 hour operation and quite frankly they [Highways England] are making it clear Option A14 is not workable".
Not so! Mr Kite is confusing Option A14 with the shorter surface crossing options along-side the existing crossing. During construction of A14 there would be virtually no disruption to the existing crossing or approach roads because virtually all work would take place away from the existing roads.
This is because Option A14 is a 6 mile long tunnel stretching from south of junction 2 on the M25 all the way to north of junction 30, completely bypassing underneath the towns of Dartford and Grays removing through traffic from junctions 2, 1a, 1b, 31 and 30.
Mr Kite said “A14 is effectively just a very long version of what’s planned at Shorne…” Actually it’s the other way round. The Option A14 route is about a third of the distance of Option C for M25 traffic, end to end. The Option C route represents a 20 mile long detour for M25 traffic via the A2 and A13. Highways England’s own figures say Option C will move only 14% of traffic away from the Dartford Crossing. 86% will continue to prefer the existing crossing. Not surprising given the cost of a 20 mile detour.
Mr Kite claims that the Highways England consultation is closed and that the Shorn Action Group’s post card campaign should not be taken into consideration by Government. The so-called “consultation” recently undertaken by Highways England will be followed up by further formal consultation under the Planning Act 2008 as part of the Development Consent Order process, once the Government has announced its proposals. In the meantime, LTCA understands the Government are open to all expressions of interest including those in favour of the Option A corridor.
Mr Kite said “We want something that actually works and provides resilience. The problem with any of the ‘A’ routes, of which A14 is one, is that it doesn’t deal with the big problem which is actually one of the major causal effects of congestion on the M25, which is that a single incident on the M25 can block the entire highway no matter how many crossings you’ve got for hours at a time, …it’s about getting the traffic moving because the economic and social effect of what we have at the moment is simply unbearable.”
LTCA agrees. Current congestion at the existing crossing must be dealt with. Option A14 increases resilience in the road network by providing a dedicated route for through traffic capable of accommodating HGV's including dangerous loads without the need for an escort - one of the main causes of congestion at the existing Dartford tunnels, reducing the likelihood and impact of the kind of incidents that cause the traffic chaos to which Mr Kite refers.
Option A14 will keep the traffic moving on the M25. It would remove not 14% of traffic from the existing crossing, but up to 50%.
The LTCA and the action groups it is working with does not support Option C. Sharon Goring said “We don’t support Option C because it doesn’t fundamentally provide a solution to the problem that exists. Option C doesn’t provide the people of Dartford enough relief from the congestion that exists, and it won’t help commercial traffic and everyone that uses the M25 currently to cross the Thames. We believe that a good calm logical review of the options that exist will mean that a better option, Option A14 will be chosen.”
Mr Kite said “..what we then need to do is that the two authorities Dartford and Gravesand and our relative campaigning teams do need to combine and work together…”.
The LTCA and the Action Groups it is working with seek solutions which provide maximum relief from traffic congestion and pollution across north Kent because we understand the harm this is doing socially and environmentally to communities especially in the boroughs of Dartford and Thurrock. The LTCA does not recognise the claim of NIMBYism among the communities of Shorne, Chalk, Higham, Riverview Park, Singlewell and all those who use the A2 regularly, all of whom will be affected if the wrong solution is built.
We believe that the most rapid, effective and long-lasting improvement to the traffic and pollution problems in north Kent can only be effected in the Dartford Crossing corridor through the construction of a solution like Option A14.
The government is set to receive over a thousand postcards from Kent residents, voicing their concerns about the proposed Lower Thames crossing east of Gravesend. Campaigners from affected village Shorne say the plan would devastate their area and solve nothing.
Click here for LTCA's response to Mr Kite's comments.
Angry villagers set to ‘bombard’ government with more than a thousand postcards protesting Lower Thames Crossing consultation
A joint venture between CH2M and Arcadis has been appointed as Highways England’s technical partner for its £5bn Lower Thames Crossing project.
The roads agency has appointed the LTC Cascade consortium, which also includes Danish tunnel and bridge specialists Cowi, to the contract, which could be worth up to £200m.
The initial £3.5m deal will see the team help Highways England with its planning application as it tries to secure a development consent order for the crossing linking Kent to Essex.
If it goes ahead, Highways England expects the value of the contract could rise to between £100m and £200m over the expected nine-year life of the project.
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