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More toll delays after price hike'

PUBLISHED: 14:33 09 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:03 23 August 2010

AB2935-012	
06-05-06	
Dartford	
Dartford toll tunnel
Fatal accident in the tunnel

AB2935-012 06-05-06 Dartford Dartford toll tunnel Fatal accident in the tunnel

HIGHER toll charges at a busy river crossing have led to an increase in traffic congestion, according to a leading motoring organisation. The AA claim that the toll booths at the Dartford Crossing are causing longer delays since the charge was raised fro

HIGHER toll charges at a busy river crossing have led to an increase in traffic congestion, according to a leading motoring organisation.

The AA claim that the toll booths at the Dartford Crossing are causing longer delays since the charge was raised from £1 to £1.50 in November last year.

Paul Watters, head of transport policy at the organisation said he wants to see the cost of the toll lowered to £1, before the problem gets worse.

Mr Watters said: "Congestion at the Dartford Crossing has definitely increased since the new charges were brought in last year.

"I think the main reason for this is to do with the fiddling of the coins that takes place now, slowing traffic down.

"There needs to be a discussion, because the problem will only get worse as the numbers of cars continue to grow. We can't just sit back and do nothing."

The Kentish Times launched the Stop the Toll campaign last November, after the introduction of the higher charges, and thousands of motorists from north Kent have pledged their support.

All we ask is the government agree to suspend the toll at the Dartford Crossing for one month to see the effect it would have on pollution and congestion.

In March this year, the then transport minister Geoff Hoon told the Kentish Times that he would consider the option.

Mr Watters added: "I would support a trial period where there was no charge. In principle it should be free, it was part of the agreement when the bridge was built that the toll would only be kept until the cost of it had been paid for.

"I would like to see the toll reduced to £1 to get rid of the longer queues, but we really should be considering making it free."

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport said that studies indicate that without any charge traffic levels would be even higher, leading to more congestion.

They say the new charging structure included the removal of charges at night and encouraging drivers to use the Dart Tag.

They added they are looking into schemes to improve the traffic flow and charges at the crossing, including improving the layout of the tolls or applying one way tolling.

ed.riley@archant.co.uk

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