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Three lanes confirmed for Lower Thames tunnels

Lower Thames Crossing

Updated designs released by Highways England show the £4.4bn Lower Thames Crossing will now have three lanes in each direction instead of two, and the tunnels could be longer.

Following a public consultation Highways England has released a raft of design updates to the proposed scheme, which will cross the Thames via two bored tunnels (northbound and southbound). The tunnnels will run from the east of Gravesend, Kent and will emerge on the north bank near Tilbury, Essex.

Although extensions to the length of the tunnels have not been decided, Highways England has confirmed that three lanes will run through the tunnels in each direction. It means the A2 to M2 section of the route at junction 1 will be widened to improve traffic flow.

The Lower Thames Crossing would offer an extra 70% capacity around the Dartford Crossing, which suffers from heavy congestion. Parts of the project would be funded through a PF2 contract which Highways England is currently reviewing with financial advisors.

Lower Thames Crossing map

Latest Lower Thames Crossing map

Source: Highways England

Highways England’s technical partner LTC Cascade, a joint venture between CH2M, Arcadis and Cowi is working on detailed design for the route. A development consent order (DCO) will be applied for in 2019.

“The Lower Thames Crossing offers a once in a generation opportunity to significantly improve connections between Essex and Kent. This new crossing will create an £8bn stimulus to the UK economy, by increasing capacity to cross the Thames between Essex and Kent by 70% when it opens by 2027, providing some much needed relief for the Dartford Crossing,” said Highways England project director for the Lower Thames Crossing Tim Jones.

“The design changes we are proposing have been shaped by the feedback we received from our consultation and there will a further opportunity for people to comment in a public consultation next year.”

More design changes are expected as Highways England continues to work on the proposals. Following another public consultation in 2018, a DCO will be applied for in 2019. If successful, work will start in 2021 and the crossing will open in 2027.

Design changes include:

  • A potential extension to the length of the tunnels.
  • Route and design changes to avoid the Ockendon landfill on the north side and a new junction and link road at Tilbury.
  • A new design for the junction of the Lower Thames Crossing and M25, and a new design for the A2 junction.
  • A redesign of the A13 junction and the removal of the A128 junction.
  • The proposed A226 junction has been removed.

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