Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Road Haulage and Freight Interests Should Respond to Lower Thames Tunnel Proposals

Consultation Ends in December as Yet Another Kent to Essex Crossing Mooted
Shipping News Feature
UK – Like buses, it seems that no sooner does the call come for one Lower Thames crossing than a proposal comes along for two. With plans being finalised for the new motorway tunnel that will connect Kent, Thurrock and Essex beneath the River Thames, and as we told in an article earlier this month, Highways England have put a request to anyone who uses the current crossings between Dartford and Thurrock to give their views on a decision which has major ramifications for the road freight industry.

The new crossing will hopefully instantly dilute the traffic flows which still tend to bottleneck at the Queen Elizabeth II bridge and twin tunnels, despite the use of ANPR technology which has replaced the old ‘stop and pay’ toll system. Drivers, both private and commercial have until December 20 to give their views via this link.

In fact our ‘two come along at once’ comment is slightly misleading as in May road haulage and freight interests welcomed the news that initial plans for a further crossing joining the A1020 Silvertown Way/Lower Lea Crossing in east London to the A102 Blackwall Tunnel Approach south of the river had been put before the secretary of state.

Now it seems Southend Council has produced a literal 5 year road map included in their proposals for infrastructure throughout south Essex over the next three decades. The plan includes a campaign to extend Crossrail to the town’s airport plus a push starting in 2020 to lobby for a fourth river crossing, the most easterly of any on the River Thames, with funding to be secured by 2023.

Southend Council however is not noted for making a great success of major projects, its history contains a litany of discarded schemes, decades of failure to fully monetise the town’s famous Victorian pier, the Saxon King museum planned for the cliff site, abandoned before work was started after consultants were paid, and now criticism as the sale of the giant Seaway car park to a developer for £1 was followed by the purchase of an adjacent site, a former gasworks, to replace the loss of vehicle spaces for £9 million.

Photo: Southend Pier at a time when crossing to Kent often called for the services of a paddle steamer from the pier head.