Smarter traffic lights and new lane markings are among measures that will help to further improve journey times and reduce queuing on roads around the northbound approaches to the Dartford Crossing in Kent.
The improvements have been agreed by Highways England and Kent County Council and detailed plans are now being drawn up to get the improvements made as soon as possible.
Journeys over the Dartford Crossing have sped up significantly since Dart Charge was introduced in November 2014 but the Kent side of the Crossing still suffers from regular congestion, especially on local roads leading to the junctions nearest the crossing – junction 1B, the Princes Road interchange, and junction 1A, the entrance to the crossing itself.
The package of measures has been identified following detailed discussions between Highways England and Kent County Council and includes:
- new message signs for drivers on local roads providing information about conditions ahead
- smarter management of the traffic lights at junctions 1A, 1B and 2 (the Darenth Interchange) to improve traffic flow
- new lane markings, including yellow boxes, at junction 1A and junction 1B to reduce lane blocking on the roundabouts
- new vehicle activated signs on the local approaches to junction 1A that will help to alert drivers of oversized vehicles to the height restrictions at the Dartford tunnels
- new journey time monitoring technology on three key routes approaching the crossing to help better manage traffic flow
In addition, a new system to enable more effective data sharing between Highways England and Kent County Council has been agreed that will allow both organisations to be more responsive to daily traffic patterns and respond in real time to what is happening at the northbound crossing.
Highways England and Kent County Council are now working up detailed plans for the earliest possible delivery of these improvements.
Roads Minister Andrew Jones said:
We have already delivered better journeys for thousands of drivers at the Dartford Crossing by removing the tolling booths, and this is more good news for drivers.
By upgrading traffic lights and carrying out other improvements we will help keep people moving and reduce the frustration of unpredictable journey times.
Longer-term we remain committed to unlocking extra capacity by building a new Lower Thames Crossing.
Tommy Whittingham M25 route sponsor for Highways England, said:
We are working closely with our colleagues at Kent County Council to find ways to improve local traffic flows in the Dartford area and ensure that all of the local approaches to the northbound carriageways of the Dartford Crossing are working as well as they possibly can.
We’ve always been clear that removing the payment barriers is just a medium term solution for congestion at the Dartford Crossing and that, in the longer term, a new Lower Thames Crossing is needed. But we still need to do everything we can to keep this vital transport gateway flowing. We are developing this package of improvements, which we believe will have a positive impact on journey times, and we are committed to delivering them as quickly as possible.
Andrew Westwood, Traffic Manager for Kent County Council, said:
It is vital that we work with Highways England to try and improve the quality of life for Dartford residents, who have to suffer the constant disruptions and delays resulting from the congestion in the area.
Dart Charge was introduced in November 2014 to speed up journeys at the Dartford Crossing and give drivers more choice on how and when they pay the Crossing Charge. A public consultation on route options for a new Lower Thames Crossing was launched on 26 January this year and will close on 24 March.
Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.