THE Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has backed Highways England’s plans for a new river crossing to the east of Dartford.
Responding to Highways England Consultation on the Lower Thames Crossing, ICE have called for a new tunnel at Location C and rejected plans for the construction of a new crossing at Dartford.
In their response, ICE called on Highways England “to ensure that the scheme delivers the most benefits to the area” by reconsidering the C Variant; the widening of the A229, so that the approach to the new crossing does not become congested or overloaded.
The Institution also highlighted the need to reassess public transport on the crossings to consider the growth of commuter traffic between Essex and Kent. ICE suggested that Highways England could consider the installation of an additional light rail link connecting the Tilbury loop line and the North Kent Railway so that commuters between the two sides of the river would no longer need to travel into London to reach their destination. Failing a commitment for a rail link, a Park and Ride scheme would provide suitable provisions for cyclists and pedestrians.
The response also sets out the need for clarity on funding arrangements for the crossing, with ICE suggesting that Highways England should consider subcontracting out the tolling, maintenance and warranty management of both crossings together to ensure the best service for road users, most resilience and greatest cost-savings
Rod Hulse, Chair of the ICE South East England Transport Panel, which compiled the response, said:
“A new river crossing is essential if we are to reduce congestion on the Dartford Crossing and increase the productivity and growth of the South East and East of England. As a major trade link with Europe and with growing demand for housing in the area, it is vital that we ensure our transport network is able to cope by investing in new crossings.
“After examining the options, the Panel decided that building another crossing at Dartford would not be viable as it would have a lesser effect on traffic levels around the crossing and would cause severe disruption during the construction period.
“Instead we have backed a new tunnel to the East of Gravesend, at Location C. Now it is for Highways England to ensure that the region gets the maximum benefit from the new river crossing, which will require reconsidering the C Variant, looking at future commuter needs and the best funding arrangements for the two crossings.”