A consultation on proposals for a new multi-billion pound road link across the River Thames between Essex and Kent has received an unprecedented level of interest as it reaches its half way mark.
Since its launch on 26 January, more than 8,000 people have attended the 16 public information events held so far at various locations across Kent and Essex.
Roads Minister Andrew Jones said:
We are committed to a new Lower Thames Crossing that will deliver better journeys for hard working people, and help boost the economy.
I am pleased that more than 8,000 people have already attended the Highways England events. I want everyone to have a say so the government can make the right decision about how to increase capacity.
Highways England senior project manager Martin Potts said:
We’re really pleased with the level of interest the project has received so far.
Deciding where the new crossing should go is a vitally important decision. We want to get as many views as we can on our proposals so we can make sure the project we recommend to the government strikes the best balance between improving journeys and getting value for money while managing its impact on the local area.
All responses will be taken into consideration before a final decision on a preferred route is made by the government later this year.
This is your chance to have your say on a once in a generation, multi-billion pound investment, so please go online to find out more and respond to our questionnaire or come and see us at one of the public events we’re continuing to host until 24 March.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said:
Essex is highly supportive of the plan and is delighted that this government is now moving forward swiftly on this issue with a clear preference. We cannot overstate the importance and urgency of proceeding with a new Thames crossing east of London.
Essex County Council will work with all partners to see what the best option is to support economic growth, create jobs, reduce congestion and manage the impact on the environment.
This consultation is the perfect chance to have your say on what is one of the most important infrastructure projects in the region.
Paul Carter, Leader of Kent County Council, said:
We have been lobbying Government for more than a decade to promote a new Thames crossing and worked with Essex County Council to advance this much-needed infrastructure. We therefore welcome the news that Highways England is consulting on it.
A new Lower Thames Crossing is vital for the continued economic prosperity of not only the South East but the wider UK economy.
In the right location, the new Crossing has the potential to relieve congestion at the current crossing, create greater network resilience and most importantly, support economic growth.
I would urge everyone in the county to have their say on this important issue before the consultation closes on 24 March.
The new road will unlock massive economic benefits for the region and the whole country, relieve congestion at the existing Dartford Crossing and improve the resilience of the road network by providing a new alternative link across the Thames.
In 2013, two locations were shortlisted for a new bridge or tunnel across the river: one near the existing Dartford Crossing (known as Option A) and the other linking the M2 with the M25 via the A13 (known as Option C), with a possible further link to the M20 (Option C Variant).
Since then, Highways England has been carrying out detailed work with a wide range of stakeholders to assess the shortlisted options and develop possible routes at each location. This evaluation is now complete, and Highways England is recommending a new road crossing at location C through a bored tunnel.
The proposed scheme would run from the end of the M2, crossing the river just east of Gravesend and Tilbury and joining the M25 between junctions 29 and 30. It will be the first new crossing of the Thames east of London since the Queen Elizabeth II bridge opened at Dartford 25 years ago.
For more information about our proposals (including a video summarising them) and the public events, and to provide your views you can visit the Lower Thames website or follow @lowerthames on Twitter.
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.