ON Thursday, 28 January, an incident on the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge led to total gridlock on both sides on the Thames.
Thurrock Council Leader, Cllr John Kent, said afterwards: “I know many people who were stuck in the traffic – one whose usual 45 minute journey from Grays to Kent ended up lasting six hours!
“It was an issue that prompted me to ask a question of the council’s highways experts.
“If Highways England’s proposed Lower Thames Crossing was already in place on Thursday, what would have happened?”
He added: “The answer our highways people gave actually surprised me because it totally backs up what I have been saying for years.
“The new road would have jammed up too. The new road would have jammed and in turn would have led to gridlock along the A13 and far further east than actually happened.
“According to Highways England’s proposals the new road would be a two-lane dual carriageway and there is no way it could cope with the traffic that usually uses the M25 and current crossing.
“I have been saying since 2010 that Option C would mean everyone living, working and driving between the two crossings would be caught in a pincer movement, attacked from both directions.
“This would guarantee gridlock not only in the west and central Thurrock, but in the east too – and probably in Basildon and Brentwood as well as Havering, Barking and Dagenham.
“I just don’t understand why Highways England think they have the answer the problem instead of the reality that their proposal would make the situation worse.”
Cllr Kent added: “I will be writing to the Chief Constable too. Something else I’ve been banging on about for many years is that when the crossing gridlocks, we need police officers at the junctions.
“North-south traffic may remain at a standstill, but if the east-west routes can be kept open by officers directing traffic, the impact would be lessened – at least for a while.”
Thurrock Council has twice voted unanimously against a further Thames crossing in the borough and a further public meeting is scheduled for the evening of Thursday, 25 February.
Highways England is carrying out a consultation on three routes in Thurrock linked to a Thames crossing tunnel to the east of Tilbury and Gravesend. The consultation can be accessed through the council’s website at thurrock.gov.uk/thamescrossing. The Highways England website also provides other information about the proposed crossing.