Today’s news that the consultation into a third Thames crossing will begin in a bid to find a solution to traffic queues at Dartford has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which said that the need to ease congestion at what is one of the most important national artery routes is essential.
"Congestion needs tackling now," declared FTA, adding that the cost of queueing should be taken into account, which for a 44 tonne truck averages £1 per minute, outweighing the cost of the toll and ultimately the price of constructing the right crossing to relieve what are now real pinch-points at Dartford and the Blackwall Tunnel.
FTA pointed out that the introduction of free-flow tolling in 2014 will go some way to relieving the queues at the tunnels, but added that new capacity was needed and there was a definite requirement to plan more efficiently for the future in order to cope with traffic on these essential routes.
The statement from FTA was in response to the announcement today (Tuesday 21 May) by Stephen Hammond, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, at Dartford which outlined the forthcoming consultation, and revealed the three options for the third Thames crossing.
The three possible options are:
Option A: at the site of the existing A282 Dartford-Thurrock crossing;
Option B: connecting the A2 Swanscombe Peninsula with the A1089; and
Option C: connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30
Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s Head of Road Network Management Policy said:
"There is absolutely no doubt that improving capacity and easing congestion at Dartford is essential, therefore FTA believes that there is a definite requirement for a third Thames crossing, but we have to ensure that the best option is selected, providing real relief on this important national artery.
"There is a terrific opportunity here that must not be wasted, and strong leadership to decide what the best option is has to be paramount. FTA will help with determining what the right option is by consulting with its members on what that best crossing will be."