THE House of Commons Transport Select Committee invited a number of councils, including Essex County Council to share their views on the proposed new East London and Lower Thames River Crossings, and the transport issues facing the area.
Cllr Rodney Bass, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “This was an opportunity to discuss the need for a new crossing to the east of the Dartford Crossing, and to reiterate our disappointment at the delay to the Lower Thames Crossing decision. Such a crossing is vital to enable inward investment in Essex and beyond, to improve connectivity and to improve the trunk road network and infrastructure.”
The issues raised at the meeting included:
Why the Lower Thames Crossing project is a real opportunity to regenerate south Essex and create jobs in Basildon and surrounding areas. It will also lead to accessibility improvements in the London-Harlow-Stansted-Cambridge growth corridor as it will take traffic from the Channel Ports through to northern England.
A discussion around how the M25 remains incomplete as a strategic ring road including why the Dartford Crossing is serious bottleneck for traffic movement. How the Government needs to make a prompt decision about the desired location of the new Lower Thames Crossing as it will have a significant effect on traffic levels on the network.
An opportunity to share views on option C and how it would create roughly 25,000 more jobs in Essex and Kent by 2031, over 7000 more jobs than Option A. It would also create roughly 21,000 more homes in Essex and Kent by 2031, over 8000 more jobs than Option A.
Finally, a focus on another area where the new Lower Thames Crossing could provide substantial resilience to the network should there be disruption at the Dartford-Thurrock Crossing. Links would be required with the M25 and with the M2, forming a new piece of infrastructure in the strategic road network and potentially a new economic corridor.
In a consultation launched by the DfT in May 2013, Essex County Council indicated its preference for Option C, connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30; or a variant that would additionally widen the A229 between the M2 and M20.
The Council concluded that this would achieve the best balance between supporting economic growth in Essex, providing congestion relief around the Dartford-Thurrock river crossing and providing a new strategic link.