Dartford Crossing tolls about to become permanent
PUBLISHED: 10:00 05 October 2019
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The controversial charges at the Dartford crossing are about to become permanent.
When the Dartford tunnels were first built, the government of the time promised the charges would be scrapped once all the works had been paid for.
This move means any hope of scrapping the charges must now be made before an October 17 deadline.
The Department of Transport says the crossing is at 117 per cent capacity, with 160,000 daily crossings.
A spokesman said: "The current charge to use the crossing exists to manage traffic demand on a crossing where traffic exceeds capacity."
And added: "However, if the charge ended, there would be an increase in traffic and congestion on this important strategic route with knock-on congestion on local roads as usage of the crossing increases."
Terry Hudson, Kent co-ordinator for the Alliance of British Drivers, said: "The controversy of charging for the Dartford - Thurrock Crossing, has been around for decades in various guises, but now, the payment system is going to be made permanent?
"The very last chance to protest is this month and users have until October 17 to do so.
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"Also, the present contract with the French company Sanef is soon to expire and a new operator is being sought and price rises can be expected.
"What makes all this worse is that Scotland abolished all tolls in 2008, and Wales abolished the Seven Bridge toll last year.
"Millions of pounds have been paid in, yet work on a new crossing still has not started even though HS2 is sucking in billions of pounds of investment.
"Up to 160,000 vehicle movements per day at the crossing, how many people will be travelling on the subsidised HS2?"
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson said: "This news doesn't change any of the arrangements in place at the crossing. It merely allows the current system to continue.
"I will continue to lobby the government and Highways England that the infrastructure at the crossing and the Dart Charge scheme needs to improve."
The first tunnel opened in 1963, the second in 1980, and bridge in 1991.
To lodge a protest, send an email here firstname.lastname@example.org