It said the multi-million pound project would bring about “economic benefits for the region and the whole country, relieve congestion at the existing Dartford Crossing and improve the resilience of the road network by providing a new alternative link across the Thames”.
Following work by Highways England to assess shortlisted locations, a link between the M2 with the M25 via the A13 through a bored tunnel (Location C) is being recommended. This would connect Tilbury to Gravesend. A location near the existing Dartford Crossing (Location A) was also shortlisted.
Highways England senior project manager, Martin Potts said: “Deciding where the new crossing should go is a vitally important decision, and we’ve been working hard to identify solutions that strike the best balance between improving journeys, getting value for money and managing environmental impact. Our assessments have shown that Location C provides double the economic benefits of Location A as well as a clear alternative route to the Dartford Crossing, reducing congestion and improving resilience of the road network. And by choosing a tunnel rather than a bridge we can minimise the effects of the new road on the environment.
“There are important choices to be made. As well as inviting comments from the public about our recommendations, we have identified three routes for the new road to the north of the river and two routes south of the river. We welcome views on them all.”
The RAC welcomed the consultation, with head of external affairs Pete Williams saying: “The Dartford Crossing has more than 100,000 crossings every day, and anyone using this stretch of road will know how congested it can become. Plans for a new crossing are therefore broadly welcome.
“While it is early in the process, it will be important to make sure that when construction begins it provides minimal disruption to existing road users in the area, in particular to those using the stretches where the route links up with the M2 at its southern end and the M25 at the northern end.”
The Road Haulage Association added that the proposal comes as good news to its members.
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Our members report that the current crossing is usually busy and frequently congested. Therefore we are pleased to see that the consultation paper acknowledges that the new route, opening in around 2025, is likely to lift the local and national economy by facilitating the speedy transportation of goods, reducing congestion, curbing greenhouse gas and other emissions, as well as bringing some road safety benefits.”
Burnett continued: “There is a desperate need to increase capacity on this route, as anyone who uses the Dartford crossing regularly will know. The congestion created is a daily burden for the UK economy.”
The Highways England public consultation runs until Thursday 24 March.