Plans have finally been revealed for the new Lower Thames Crossing, situated to the east of UK capital London. Construction is expected to cost up to £5.9 billion. The new link will take the form of a 3.2km long tunnel, joining the A2 and the M25 and reducing congestion on the busy Dartford Crossing. The tunnel will run from the M25 near North Ockendon, cross the A13 at Orsett before crossing under the Thames east of Tilbury and Gravesend. A new link road will then take traffic to the A2 near Shorne, close to where the route becomes the M2. The project is expected to carry 4.5 million heavy goods vehicles in its first year while it will employ up to 6,000 at the peak during construction.
This route was identified by the majority of nearly 47,000 respondents to a consultation on a new Lower Thames Crossing as the best solution for reducing traffic and congestion at the Dartford Crossing and for boosting the economy by improving links to London and the Channel ports. A further £10 million will be used to improve traffic flow at and around the existing crossing as well as studying ways to further tackle congestion.
The project to build a new Lower Thames Crossing has been mooted a number of times over several years. In 1990 plans for a concrete box girder type bridge were unveiled, which was then described as unaesthetic by some of its detractors. Previous plans for a cable stayed bridge had to be revised due to the concern over the flight path into and out of City Airport, which was why the concrete box girder design was suggested instead.