Updated plans for the £6 billion Lower Thames Crossing project have been unveiled by Highways England.
Linking Kent, Thurrock and Essex, the new road will almost double road capacity across the River Thames, halving northbound journey times at the Dartford Crossing in the process.
Highways England has described the project as the most ambitious on the country’s roads since the opening of the M25 30 years ago.
The major new road, incorporating the Lower Thames Crossing, will include a three-lane dual carriageway, and a road tunnel that will be the longest in the UK.
Vital for businesses, the Lower Thames Crossing project will also connect communities and boost the economy by making the road network much more resilience, while also reducing dependence on the existing Dartford Crossing.
Almost 50,000 have provided consultation on previous proposals, which is a record in itself for a UK road scheme.
The results of this have driven the new plans, which will now be subject to a 10-week proposal that will run from 10 October to 20 December.
As part of the improvements, the 14.5 mile Lower Thames Crossing project will help manage traffic at Dartford, which will be reduced by more than a fifth – the equivalent of 14 million fewer vehicles using the route every year.
Elsewhere, a new rest and service area will be created to the west of East Tilbury; an improved junction with the A2 will be provided; and a new design for the Tilbury junction has been included, removing the proposed Tilbury link road to reduce traffic on the local road network.
The Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, commented:
“We are making the biggest investment in improving our roads since the 1970s, ensuring journeys are quicker and safer.
“The Lower Thames Crossing will help transform journeys, create new business opportunities in Kent and Essex, and unlock productivity across the UK.
“It will also cut congestion at the Dartford Crossing and improve connectivity from our industrial heartland to our ports in the South East.”
It continues the efforts made by Highways England to improve journeys across the country.