The Lower Thames Crossing is a road crossing under construction on the Thames estuary near the Dartford Crossing that connects Kent and Essex counties. When fully built it will also cross through the district of Thurrock. Onthe Kent side will go through Gravesham to cross the North Downs and supplement the Dartford route. The 14.3 miles highway will consist, seven green bridges connecting communities and wildlife. Additionally, a new public parks and 46km of modern footpaths and cycle routes will be developed. The crossing was earlier proposed in the 2010s and was a plan to lower the traffic on the existing A282 Dartford Crossing. The Lower Thames Crossing route will link the M25 motorway and A13 north of the river with the M2 motorway south of the river. The crossing will have a 2.6 miles long tunnel which will be the longest road tunnel in the UK. The crossing was estimated to cost between £5.3bn and £6.8bn, taking about six years to construct after planning permission was granted.
Referred as “the country’s strategic road network crucial part”, Dartford Crossing is the only fixed road crossing on the River Thames east of Greater London. Even though not officially designated a motorway, it is considered as part of the M25 motorway orbital route in London. The route was last expanded in 1991 alongside the opening of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. The crossing is the busiest estuarial route in the UK, with daily average use of approximately 160,000 vehicles. Dartford has high levels of traffic congestion, mostly at peak times – with increased levels of air pollution affecting neighbouring Thurrock and Dartford.
The Department for Transport in January brought three major proposals to rise capacity east of London over the River Thames to be constructed downstream of the existing Dartford Crossing and furthermore to expand capacity at the Dartford Crossing.
A study proposal commissioned by Kent County Council in October revealed that the northern end of the crossing needs to bypass the M25 and go on to join to the M11 (and Stansted Airport) directly. The proposal would presumably be an Option C adaptation.
In April, the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling verified Option C as the favorable route for the Lower Thames Crossing.
Highways England in July revealed that they expected to present a planning application in Summer 2020 and had a plan for the road opening in 2027
Highways England issued ammended proposals based on the previous Option C. It proposed the route to run from the M25 at North Ockendon to the A2 at Thong, and an intermediate junction with the A1089 and A13 roads.
In April, Highways England stated that they had split the building of the road into three sections. The roads north and south of the tunnel would be constructed by two contractors, at a cost of £1.3bn and £600m respectively. The other contractor would construct the tunnel, at a cost of £2.3bn. This would allow the scheme’s construction to start immediately after the Development Consent Order (DCO) process was completed.
National Highways in October appointed Turner & Townsend as the Commercial Partner to construct Lower Thames Crossing scheme. T&T together with the main works contractors and the integrated client team, will develop the single largest roads project in a generation containing the longest road tunnel in the United Kingdom.