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FTA says new tunnel plan must consider freight traffic

FTA says new tunnel plan must consider freight traffic

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says the planned new tunnel under the Thames must have a robust system in place for handling commercial vehicles to keep freight traffic flowing.

Highways England today launched a consultation on its favoured route for the Lower Thames Crossing linking Junction 1 of the M2 with the M25. A tunnel rather than a bridge is recommended from the river east of Gravesend to Tilbury.

Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s Head of Road Network Management Policy, said: “We recognise that a tunnel will have less environmental impact than a bridge but it brings its own challenges for the freight industry.

“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.

“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.”

Consultation on a third river crossing began in May 2013 when three options were announced. These were reduced to two in December 2013 and now Highways England has rejected the route close to the existing Dartford Crossing in favour of connecting Junction 1 of the M2 with the M25.

Mr Bingham said: “This was the route favoured by our members when we consulted with them, and we will be having further discussions in coming weeks on the details of this latest proposal. FTA will submit a response from its members and urges the Government to press ahead with this much-needed scheme to increase capacity and resilience and reduce congestion at the existing river crossings.”

The consultation runs until 24 March and a decision is expected later this year.

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