TOP Thurrock councillors are being urged to create a Congestion Task Force to tackle gridlock problems in the borough quickly.
At Wednesday (2 March) evening’s meeting of the Planning, Transport, and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee members said the cabinet should establish “a Congestion Task Force comprised of Highway Authority, emergency service and business partners on both sides of the existing Dartford Crossing”.
The committee had heard of the latest position of council-commissioned experts looking at Highways England’s plans for a Lower Thames Crossing and were concerned current problems could continue in the ten years before and crossing could be built.
Committee chair, Cllr Brian Little, said afterwards: “The council and the people of Thurrock have made their position clear, we do not want another Thames crossing in the borough – it is not the right place to ease congestion.
“But Thurrock’s Business Board has called for this task force and we want cabinet to set it up as soon as possible. We need to find ways of allowing the traffic to flow while Highways England either continue with their shambles of a consultation or – better still – stop it altogether.”
He added: “The interim report from our consultants was very interesting and I’m sure their final report which will be presented to council on 23 March will bolster our arguments considerably.”
Cllr Little explained how the interim report highlights many points such as “the traffic movement data on which the appraisal partly relies is out of date; that the Route C options have very similar cost benefits and those benefits are substantially made up of time savings based on the historic date; that A and C fulfil substantially different functions; and if either A or C is built, and there are incidents, the impact of C will be worse for local traffic than A”.
He said: “The report also says any gridlock will worsen pollution in the area of the new route; if a route if built, Highways England predict a 14 per cent cut in traffic at the Dartford Crossing in 2025 and seven per cent in 2041, so not a great deal of difference; Highways England have still to publish their detailed information which makes it impossible to counter; and even that more work is needed to demonstrate the need for a new crossing.”
He said: “The environmental harm caused by the scheme has not been fully assessed or quantified; impacts of junctions on the A13 need to be assessed; a full ‘like-for-like’ assessment of Option A should be provided; and the public interest case required for compulsory purchase has not been met – all this and they still insist on continuing with the shambolic consultation.
“In my view the consultation should be suspended to allow further work.”