Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Campaigners claim Lower Thames Crossing is “smart motorway by stealth”

THE £8.2billion Lower Thames Crossing will be a “smart motorway by stealth” that will result in fatalities, claim campaigners.

Nationally, the use of so-called smart motorway technology has been paused while an investigation is conducted into their safety.

The technology allows motorists to be informed by overhead monitors of lane closures due to accidents and to the opening of hard shoulders to keep traffic flowing but they have been blamed for a number of fatalities.

Laura Blake who is chair of the Thames Crossing Action Group dubbed the crossing that will link Essex with Kent a “killer motorway”.

Grilling Tim Wright, head of consents and National Highways at a recent meeting of Thurrock’s Lower Thames Crossing task force she said: “We know that it is an all-purpose trunk road but it’s being built to smart road standards. When we’ve previously asked the difference between all-purpose trunk roads and smart roads we’ve been told the only real difference is the colour of the road signs.”

Mr Wright said the pause in smart motorways only applied to normal motorways that had been converted to smart motorways not to new ones. He added safety was of the utmost concern and National Highways had learned from previous failures of the high tech motorways but Ms Blake wasn’t convinced.

She said: “As for National Highways learning lessons, the majority of the people in this country do not agree with that because you have no consideration at all for how dangerous these roads are.

“They shouldn’t be called smart motorways. They should be called killer motorways because your technology and removal of those hard shoulders, exactly the same as we would have if the Lower Thames Crossing goes ahead, are deadly. You are saying you are going to have zero fatalities on the road by 2040. That is not possible that’s realistic

We know that the figures you have shared show that there would be fatalities and serious incidents on this road. It is a smart motorway by stealth.”

Mr Wright said zero fatalities by 2040 was only a National Highways aim but he said he believed there would be an overall reduction of incidents.

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