Any charges for using the new Lower Thames Crossing must be similar to those at Dartford if the new route is to effectively relieve congestion, the FTA has warned.  

Malcolm Bingham, head of road network management policy at the association, said that if the charges were not similar, vehicle drivers might start “making the choice not to use it”.

It’s not yet clear what user charges will apply, but a document released as part of a public consultation that began on Tuesday this week (26th) states that “in line with government policy a user charge at the existing Dartford Crossing would be retained and the two crossings managed together to ensure the best use of capacity.

“The precise charging strategy will be developed at a later phase of the project”, continues the document.

The FTA has also called for measures to be put in place at the new crossing to ensure the delays commonly experienced at Dartford are not replicated.

“The current Dartford tunnels create delays for all when vehicles with dangerous goods or height and width issues pass through, as they either have to wait to be escorted or ensure they are in the correct approaching lane due to the tunnel’s limitations,” Bingham said.

“We urge Highways England to ensure that construction includes putting in place safety systems to allow these vehicles to move freely through the new tunnel without having to stop.”

In the new consultation, which runs for eight weeks, Highways England has outlined three shortlisted routes linking the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 with junction 1 of the M2, all sharing a common crossing consisting of a new bored tunnel under the river just east of Gravesend and Tilbury.