Search for contractor to build proposed Lower Thames Crossing tunnel

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 November 2020

Artist's impression of the Lower Thames Crossing. Picture: Highways England

Artist's impression of the Lower Thames Crossing. Picture: Highways England


Highways England is searching for a partner to build a £2billion tunnel between Havering and Kent.

The proposed Lower Thames Crossing would, if built, see the construction of two 2.6-mile long road tunnels – the longest in Britain – as part of 14.3 miles of new road.

If approved, the scheme would see a three-lane dual carriageway constructed to connect the M25 near North Ockendon to the M2 near Rochester.

Highways England estimates work could start in as soon as 18 months’ time, and when complete would increase capacity for road journeys across the Thames east of London.

The organisation has put out an invitation to tender, meaning any company interested in constructing the tunnels should get in touch.

The tunnels and approaches contract includes design and construction of the 16m wide twin road tunnels – some of the largest bored tunnels in the world.

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The scope also includes the portal buildings, approach roads and the tunnel systems.

Matt Palmer, Lower Thames Crossing executive director, said: “The Lower Thames Crossing is the most ambitious road project this country has seen since the M25 was completed nearly 35 years ago.

“At a time of huge uncertainty for the industry, this contract shows our commitment to this project, which will support thousands of jobs during its construction and provide a huge economic boost to the UK economy when it opens for traffic.

“The scheme will relieve congestion at the Dartford Crossing by providing a new free flowing road, almost doubling road capacity across the Thames and supporting sustainable local and regional economic growth.”

It is expected that more than 27 million drivers would use the Lower Thames Crossing in its first year, providing relief for the Dartford Crossing which often used by up to 45,000 more vehicles a day than it was originally intended for.

The tunnels and approaches contract is the first of the three main works contracts to be procured for the scheme, with the road contracts for either side of the tunnel expected to be announced early in 2021.

A decision is expected from the Secretary of State for Transport in 2022, with construction expected to start later that year.

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