ESSEX County Council will press the Secretary of State for Transport to take a decision on the new Lower Thames Crossing as soon as possible after Highways England’s public consultation on its proposed route options closes on 24 March.
Patrick McLoughlin MP will be urged to choose option 3; the authority’s favoured north of the Thames route which follows a middle-line from the crossing to the M25 between junctions 29 and 30.
With further housing developments planned in Essex, Kent and London over the next decade, the authority warns the cost of inaction will be huge for residents, motorists and businesses, and is growing in significance daily.
Cllr Rodney L Bass, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Infrastructure said: “We need the Department for Transport (DfT) to commit to an option creating roughly 25,000 new jobs and some 21,000 new homes in Essex and Kent by 2031.
“And we need it to commit to option 3,” he added.
“It’s the right decision to take for all the right reasons – inward investment in Essex and beyond, enhanced connectivity and an improved road network and infrastructure.”
It is envisaged the new crossing’s location will have a significant impact on traffic levels and the transport landscape in surrounding areas, as well as the phasing of improvements to junctions along the M25 and A13.
Cllr Bass continued: “Route 3 presents a tangible opportunity to regenerate large areas of south Essex. The wider prospects lead to a new direct route for longer distance movements for HGVs and residents using the north-east section of the M25 and beyond to A14 and A1.
"We shall continue working closely with Kent County Council, with which we have a completely shared view, to press for the early delivery of this vital infrastructure project which will greatly benefit all the communities we represent."
The need for a new Lower Thames Crossing is well documented. Originally designed with a total capacity of 135,000 vehicles a day, the Dartford Crossing now faces 140,000 vehicles each day, causing lengthy delays for motorists and costing the economy an estimated Â£15m a year.