The Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) will be future-proofed along the new 23km route with over 600 charging points and full data coverage to support the roll out of electric and autonomous vehicles.
Speaking at a Westminster Forum on the delivery of major infrastructure, LTC development director David Manning said Highways England wanted to ensure the road was fit for future use.
“We wanted to make sure we look forward to how car technology, motor transport and the mix of transport is going to evolve over the next 20 to 30 years,” he said. “We’ve spoken to car manufacturers about their ambitions around autonomous vehicles and the government for electric vehicles.
“LTC will respond by installing over 600 charging points along its 23km route and also provide data coverage along the route to support autonomous vehicles.”
Manning said it had created the most sophisticated traffic model “which had ever been undertaken globally” to prove the business case for the new road, which will run from Essex to Kent with a 3.9km long tunnel under the Thames.
The new tunnel, he said, will be the third largest bore in the world at 16m, allowing space for three lanes in each direction and giving enough capacity to “give congestion relief at Dartford and at the LTC, way beyond any of our predictions”.
He admitted the larger tunnel had been a “tricky sell” to government as he said the business case to give free flowing traffic for the next 15 years could have been justified with only two lanes. But he said to future proof the route, they had managed to secure outline approval for the three lane tunnel.
“Twenty five years plus, we’re still going to see better journeys across the river there,” he said. “We’re learning from Dartford [crossing] and we want to do the infrastructure in one fell swoop. We don’t want to see cones on the motorway year after year and we want to solve this problem in one big bite.”
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