Proposed Lower Thames Crossing set to get share of £27.4bn highways improvement fund

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

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

Plans to build a new crossing linking Havering to Kent have been given a boost after Highways England revealed it would get a share of £27.4billion.

Part of the money, which has been designated for improving the quality, capacity and safety of the country’s roads, has been set aside to be used on the Lower Thames Crossing project.

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

This would include a 2.4 mile tunnel between Gravesend and Tilbury.

It has been branded a “flagship project” by Highways England, with a spokesperson saying benefits include “adding capacity and speeding up journeys between the Channel ports and the rest of the country, which will improve access to jobs, housing, leisure and retail facilities on both sides of the river”.

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The organisation has said that the new crossing - intended to have a 70mph speed limit - will provide up to 90 per cent additional road capacity across the Thames to the east of London and transform journeys through the region.

It hopes to reduce the traffic jams that - prior to the pandemic - would frequently build up at the Dartford Crossing, especially during rush hour.

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Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “Our network is a vital part of everyone’s life. It has served the country well during the pandemic, keeping supermarket shelves stocked and enabling key workers to get where they need to be.

“Over the next five years we will increase capacity where it is most needed and continue to upgrade more of the network which has suffered from decades of under-investment.

“We now have a strong track record of delivering new schemes and operating the network for the benefit of our customers and the communities we serve.

“The plan we’re launching will protect and create jobs to aid the nation’s recovery, and make journeys faster and more reliable for freight and road users.”

A decision on whether to build the Lower Thames Crossing is expected to be made next year, and if approved, it could open as soon as 2027.

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