Highways England has started an eight-week consultation on a new tunnel proposed for the Lower Thames Crossing.
The multi-billion pound road link between Essex and Kent aims to relieve congestion at the Dartford Crossing and provide a new link across the River Thames.
In 2013, two locations were shortlisted for a new bridge or tunnel across the river: one near the existing Dartford Crossing, and the other linking the M2 with the M25 via the A13.
Now Highways England has finished its evaluation and is recommending the option which links the M2 with the M25 via the A13 via 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.
Lower thames tunnel route
Source: Highways England
Roads Minister Andrew Jones said: “Roads are key to ensuring the nation’s prosperity. As part of our long-term economic plan, we are making the biggest investment in roads in a generation.
“The government is committed to delivering a Lower Thames Crossing which will increase capacity and provide better, faster journeys across the Thames.
“Once complete it could add over £7bn to the economy by increasing investment and business opportunities, and create over 5,000 new jobs nationally.”
Highways England senior project manager Martin Potts added: “Deciding where the new crossing should go is a vitally important decision, and we’ve been working hard to identify solutions that strike the best balance between improving journeys, getting value for money and managing environmental impact. Our assessments have shown that Location C provides double the economic benefits of Location A as well as a clear alternative route to the Dartford Crossing, reducing congestion and improving resilience of the road network. And by choosing a tunnel rather than a bridge we can minimise the effects of the new road on the environment.
“There are important choices to be made. As well as inviting comments from the public about our recommendations, we have identified three routes for the new road to the north of the river and two routes south of the river. We welcome views on them all.
“This consultation is your chance to have your say on a once-in-a-generation, multi-billion pound investment that will have wide ranging effects for decades. I encourage anyone who would like to find out more to check out the consultation materials or come and see us at one of the public exhibitions we’ll be hosting.”
The consultation runs until Thursday 24 March and includes 24 public exhibitions, held at venues across Kent and Essex. A final decision will be made by the Government later this year.