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Suffolk/Essex: Proposal for third Thames crossing welcomed to ease pressure on Dartford

PUBLISHED: 06:00 22 May 2013

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A Suffolk MP has welcomed news that the Government has opened consultation on a proposed third road crossing on the Lower Thames.

The Government says a new crossing costing up to £5billion is needed to reduce congestion at Dartford and has put forward three locations as suggested sites for the construction.

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo said the announcement had “no downsides and only clear benefits for Suffolk”.

He added: “Any new crossing over the Thames will be beneficial to businesses and people living in Suffolk.

“Anyone who has driven through there will know that delays can often happen. A new crossing will go some way to keeping Suffolk linked into the wider road network and encourage investment and jobs in the county.”

Mr Yeo’s views were echoed by Witham MP Priti Patel, who emphasised the commercial gains a new crossing might bring.

She said: “I welcome the consultation as a new crossing would expand capacity, ease congestion and help Essex and Kent meet the economic challenges of the twenty-first century. Over 50 million vehicles use the Dartford Crossing each year and we all know how horrendous the delays and congestion can be.”

“For most of the year the current Dartford Crossing is operating over capacity and these delays are extremely inconvenient to commuters and costly to businesses. I would encourage regular users of the crossing to get in involved, respond to the consultation and attend one of the information events being held.”

Details about the options were outlined in a document published by the Department of Transport, which said the existing crossings at Dartford are struggling to cope with the 140,000 vehicles that make the journey each day.

The three possible options for the new crossing are:

n Option A, at the site of the existing A282 Dartford-Thurrock crossing;

n Option B, which would connect the A2 Swanscombe Peninsula with the A1089;

n Option C, which would connect the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30.

An additional variant to option C would see the A229 widen between the M2 and M20.

Option A is estimated to cost up to £1.6bn and option B up to £2.2bn. The most expensive option, C, will top £3bn while it is estimated that the variant option may cost as much as £5bn.

The plans were unveiled by Roads Minister Stephen Hammond, who said: “With traffic levels expected to increase by a fifth over the next 30 years, it is vital we take action now on the future of a new Lower Thames crossing to make sure that our road network is able to meet the future economic needs of the country.”

The consultation will include five public meetings in Kent and Essex throughout June and responses have to be submitted by Tuesday, July 16.

The Department of Transport is expected to report back in the autumn.

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