New figures released by TomTom analysing Britain’s busiest roads have revealed that the average speed of a motorist approaching the crossing on the Dartford side of the Thames between 8am and 9am is just 11 miles per hour.
Record-breaking Bolt has clocked speeds of 28 miles per hour, and the shocking figures also confirm that it would be quicker for drivers to get out of their vehicles and ride a bike towards Essex instead, if that were allowed.
The 11 mph average speed is a huge drop compared to what was clocked in 2008, when vehicles were moving at 53 mph. The evening peak has become even worse, with the average speed recorded at 8mph.
According to TomTom, those are the slowest average motorway speeds in the entire country, which will add even more pressure on road bosses and the government to move ahead with plans for a new Lower Thames Crossing to help combat the problem.
Theresa May was asked for a progress report on the government’s deliberations during Prime Minister’s Questions last week by Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti.
Highways England has recommended that the Department for Transport move ahead with a crossing east of Gravesend to help ease congestion caused by the existing crossing in Dartford, but no decision has yet been made.
Mrs May said: “We have consulted on proposals around a Lower Thames Crossing. There were 47,000 responses to that consultation and these are now being considered.
“The Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Graying MP) will make his response to that consultation in due course.”
Last Monday the M25 came to another standstill due to fog, an accident and the closure of one of the Dartford tunnels, and there were more delays after an accident on Sunday morning.
Police received a report of a single-vehicle collision at junction 2 of the London-bound M25 at 6.15am and two of the three lanes were closed. Secamb treated a woman at the scene and the slip-road did not clear until just before 8am.
The latest incidents and TomTom’s figures add even greater substance to Dartford MP Gareth Johnson’s claim that the M25 approach is Britain’s worst stretch of road.
Speaking after PMQs, Mr Johnson said he would be meeting with the PM in the near future to discuss the issue further.
He added: “It is essential we all keep up the pressure over this issue.
“I have recently made representations to the Prime Minister about the location of the new Lower Thames Crossing which I want to see located east of Gravesend and not in Dartford.
“We also need Highways England to take radical steps to tackle the congestion whilst a new crossing is being built.”
He added: “I have always maintained this is the worst stretch of road in the country and of course what compounds it is the fact we have to pay to use it.
“It is a national embarrassment and holds back not just the Thames Gateway area but the whole of the south east.”
Last week’s Messenger reported Dartford council leader Cllr Jeremy Kite’s (Con) call for councillors to be given a seat at the table during meetings over the crossing in a bid to come up with interim solutions.
The Gravesend crossing - Option C - is Highways England’s preferred choice despite opposition from residents in Gravesham, but if approved it would not be built until 2026 at the earliest.
Cllr Kite was granted his wish last Thursday when he was joined by MP Mr Johnson and Dartford council’s cabinet member for transport Cllr Keith Kelly (Con) at a meeting with crossing officials and police.
“One of the values of the meeting was that we were putting things to them in ways they rarely have put to them,” said Cllr Kite.
“It wasn’t an aggressive meeting. We just want to sit with them when they discuss their business so we can put in a word on behalf of residents and businesses.”
One of the points raised was whether incidents on the surrounding road networks could be linked to the flow of the crossing.
Cllr Kite said an accident on the A2 London-bound at Ebbsfleet on Thursday morning had led to reports of the crossing flowing more freely, with congestion building again once the accident had been cleared.
He added: “We were there to press them on new solutions and move quicker on the ones they have.”