Lower Thames Crossing to feature three lanes in both directions as highways bosses adjust plans
PUBLISHED: 13:00 01 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:59 01 November 2017
The proposals will involve widening the A2 to junction 1 of the M2, near the village of Shorne
The controversial Lower Thames Crossing is now set to feature an extra lane in both directions as highways bosses adjust plans for the £6bn project.
Highways England is now proposing that the route between the A2 in Kent and A13 in Essex is three lanes in both directions, rather than two, which will involve widening the A2 to junction 1 of the M2, near the village of Shorne, to improve traffic flows.
The proposed junction with the A226 in Gravesend has also been removed following feedback from residents and businesses that it would increase local traffic in the area.
Bob Lane from the Lower Thames Crossing Association, a group formed against the crossing’s development, said: “The removal of this ridiculous junction on the A226 is of course good news, but people should be under no illusion about the level of traffic, pollution, and environmental damage that the crossing east of Gravesend will bring to this area”.
“The removal of the A226 junction allows the tunnel portals to be moved south, away from Chalk and we are disappointed that Highways England has not made this decision yet.
“Whilst we are encouraged by their statement that they are continuing their assessment about the length of the tunnel and where to locate the entrances, we want to see the tunnels extended as close to the A2 as possible to minimise the impact on the lives of people living in Thong, Riverview Park, and west Shorne.”
Further changes have been suggested on the other side of the river, including a new junction and link road at Tilbury, while a new design for the proposed junction with the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 is now being progressed.
Bosses say it aims to provide a safer junction with greater capacity that also blends better with the local landscape.
Christian Brodie, chairman of South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), which aims to boost economic growth in the county, said: “It is clear Highways England has listened to businesses and local communities.
“We recognise there are those on both sides of the Thames that will be affected, but believe Highways England is doing all it can to mitigate the impact. The new crossing will have a positive impact on the economy of the SELEP area, and the UK as a whole.
“It is much more than just a tunnel with a road at either end. We welcome the focus of Highways England on ensuring it connects well with the wider road network in Kent and Essex.”
Jo James, chief executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce, added: “The proposal to make each tunnel three lanes wide, and at the same time reduce the impact of HGVs on local communities, is great news.
“This update will strengthen the confidence of the business community that the project team is moving through the design stage and towards getting diggers on site as quickly as possible.”
It comes after some local campaigners opposed to the crossing claimed they had been “left in the dark” over developments.
The crossing aims to be open by 2027, which is at the back end of the target period proposed by the government when it announced its preferred route back in April.