The new Lower Thames Crossing will consist of a bored tunnel under the River Thames between Tilbury and Gravesend, with road links north to a new junction of the M25 and south to the A2. It is expected to take approximately 10 years to construct, costing an estimated £5.9 billion.
The only current way to cross the Thames east of London by road is via the Dartford Tunnel and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. There are currently 55 million journeys per year over the Dartford Crossing, 6 million more than it was designed for. Heavy congestion and unreliable journey times result, with the crossing being closed almost daily due to accidents.
The new 13 mile route selected for The Lower Thames crossing will reduce congestion at Dartford, and has been chosen to minimise community and environmental impact. Not only will the crossing boost the construction sector and associated supply chains, it is hoped it will unlock £8 billion in economic benefits and create 6,000 new jobs. It is expected to carry 4.5 million heavy goods vehicles in its first year alone.
The crossing will deliver 70% of additional road capacity across the River Thames to the east of London. It will strengthen the resilience of UK-European trade connections as the country moves towards Brexit, improving key links to the Channel Ports from London and nationwide. Seen as essential strategic infrastructure to support national economic activity, it is also expected to boost economic growth locally, improving journeys and network reliability.
Now that the route has been confirmed by the Government, Highways England will begin to progress the design, carrying out more detailed environmental and ecological surveys, traffic modelling and air quality and noise pollution impact surveys. In addition, £10 million will be spent improving traffic flow at the existing crossing. It is expected that work will commence shortly, with a projected opening of the new crossing in 2027.