Gravesham MP Adam Holloway secured an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on Monday night to stress his concerns over the potential multi-billion pound project, calling on the government to ignore Highways England’s recommendation and instead pursue the option of another crossing in Dartford.
He said that a seven-mile tunnel underneath Dartford and Thurrock would be a more effective long-term solution for the motorway’s traffic problem, which regularly causes gridlock across Dartford.
“This (crossing east of Gravesend) will badly affect the lives of several thousand of my constituents, but if I thought doing this was the right thing to do I would apologise to them and tell them so,” he said.
Mr Holloway, who described the Dartford Crossing as "an appalling logistical travesty", said a crossing in Gravesham would condemn Dartford and the surrounding area to another 40 years of misery and accused road bosses of misleading the government with their figures.
Highways England claim that a Lower Thames Crossing would reduce the amount of traffic using the QEII Bridge and accompanying tunnels by 14%, but Mr Holloway believes the benefits of another crossing option at the existing site would be far greater.
The MP continued: “A crossing anywhere other than at Dartford will not change the fact that the M25 runs through Dartford and Thurrock. The only way to fix the problem of the M25 is at the M25.
“The reason for the appalling congestion is that the crossing is where local, regional, and national long range traffic meet. Until you separate the local and regional traffic from the long-range traffic you will always have problems at the Dartford Crossing.
“A long tunnel – opening before the A2 and after the A14 (and vice-versa) – would swallow up most of the national long range traffic. That would mean that there would be up to 40% more space at the existing bridge and tunnel for local and regional traffic.”
In addition to his claim that Highways England was misleading the government over the proposals, he said the same was true of politicians in Dartford.
He said: “Understandably, there was early local opposition to a new crossing at Dartford. Local residents were concerned this would lead to more traffic.
"They were not aware of the long tunnel or other less-intrusive options. In response, local politicians have repeatedly thought of their own political lifetimes, rather than beg on their knees for the new crossing to save people of Dartford and Thurrock from another 30 years of gridlock.”
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson, who attended the debate alongside Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price, is hoping to soon meet with Prime Minister Theresa May to make the case for the Lower Thames Crossing.
Responding to his Gravesham counterpart's proposal for a long tunnel, he said: "My honourable friend seems to be advocating the funneling of more traffic into the Dartford area, whereas the solution, surely, is to take traffic away and site the crossing east of Gravesend.
"When in the 1600s it was decided that London Bridge was too congested, the town planners of the day decided that they would not put another crossing right next to the existing one, but would give some resilience to London.
"The same situation happened again and again, so we have crossings at various locations in London. That is exactly what we need to do for the future. We must ensure that we have a separate crossing location east of Gravesend."
He later reiterated his call for more short-term measures to be introduced to tackle the congestion in his borough.
He said: "Highways England needs to look at this whole matter in a radical way so that we can ensure that, during the approximately 10 years it will take to build the Lower Thames Crossing, my constituents are not held to ransom by the traffic congestion that we suffer daily."
The PM has also been sent a letter by Dartford council calling for a quick decision.