Transport minister Stephen Ladyman yesterday admitted that the Dartford Crossing in Kent is struggling to cope with traffic volumes and said that government is investigating the possibility of building a new route over the Thames.
'The crossing struggles to cope with the volume of traffic for much of the time, leading to long queues. As traffic increases the queues will get worse so we have to act,' he said.NCE
revealed last year that the Highways Agency was concerned about capacity and were considering the need for an additional crossing (NCE
15 September 2005).'Preliminary work has already started and the main study will start as early as possible next year. In the longer term, traffic pressures at the crossing will continue to get worse so we have to consider options for additional capacity and move forward towards a decision,' said Ladyman. In the meantime a new charging system has been introduced to try and incentivise the use of electronic tags, which enable vehicles to pass over the crossing faster than cash-paying motorists. The charge at peak times has also been increased to £1.50 for cash-paying motorists, but remains at £1 for those using the 'Dart Tag'. However, at night time the charge will be abolished to encourage drivers to use the crossing when traffic is lighter.