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Tunnel vision: New Thames crossing to boost economy

A new Thames tunnel is aimed at relieving congestion at the Dartford Crossing. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Plans for a new Thames tunnel that could give a huge boost to our region's economy have been firmed up by Highways England.

The planned new road linking the M25 in Essex and the M2 in Kent will cost billions but should relieve congestion on the Dartford Crossing.

Click below to watch a report on the proposed new crossing by ITV News Anglia's Liz Summers

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New tunnel under Thames linking Essex and Kent

There are plans for a new tunnel under the Thames to link Essex and Kent Credit: Highways England

Shortlisted proposals have been put forward for a new tunnel under the River Thames in Essex to ease pressure on the Dartford Crossing.

The new tunnel will link a new junction on the M25 with Tilbury in Essex and Gravesend in Kent.

After looking at various options Highways England is recommending a tunnel from East Tilbury in Essex under the river to Chalk in Kent.

A new junction would be built on the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 with a road leading through to Orsett and then onto the new tunnel.

It would be the first new crossing of the Thames east of London since the Queen Elizabeth II bridge opened at Dartford 25 years ago.

Lanes closed on M25 Dartford Crossing in strong winds

Two lanes of the Dartford Crossing are closed because of strong winds. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

There is very slow traffic on the Dartford Crossing bridge from Essex into Kent because of severe weather conditions.

Two lanes are closed due to strong winds on M25 clockwise at A282 (QE2 Bridge). Lanes one and three of the four lanes are closed on the bridge for safety, as lorries are getting blown around in the gusts.

Elsewhere, there are reports of a tree blocking the A140 Norwich to Ipswich road at Tasburgh near Long Stratton in Norfolk. Trees have also been brought down in other parts of the region with warnings for drivers to take care on the roads.

Wind gusts of 61mph were recorded at Marham in Norfolk and Wittering in Cambridgeshire at 10am on Saturday.

Video of work to make it quicker and easier to pay at the Dartford Crossing

The Highways Agency has released a time-lapse video of work to make it quicker and easier to pay the toll for using the Dartford Crossing between Essex and Kent.

The video shows the installation of five new gantries that have been installed at the entrance to the Dartford tunnels and on the Queen Elizabeth II bridge.

The gantries will hold cameras and sensors for the new Dart Charge being introduced in October. That will allow drivers to pre-pay the charge or pay online so they won't need to stop at the toll booths.

The Highways Agency says 170,000 vehicles a day use the crossing and the new system will improve journeys and reduce congestion.

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Tolls set to rise on Dartford Crossing

Every day thousands of motorists use either the Queen Elizabeth the 2nd bridge or the Dartford tunnel to get to and from Essex to Kent.

But from this weekend, there's going to be a big rise in toll charges. And there'll be another in two years time to help fund a £500m scheme to remove the tolls - increases that have been criticised by local haulage companies. Malcolm Robertson reports.

Toll cost set to soar from Sunday

From Sunday, motorists using the Dartford crossing between Essex and Kent face increases in the toll charges.

They'll be going up by more than 30% - and a further rise is planned in two years time.

It's to pay for an estimated £500m scheme that'll do away with the toll booths. Inevitably, these increases are proving unpopular - as Malcolm Robertson reports.

Dartford Crossing charges to increase

Charges are to be changed for the Dartford-Thurrock Crossing in a move the Government say will reduce congestion and improve journey times.

From October it'll cost an extra 50p if you pay by cash and travel by car. Those using the dart-tag charge will also see an increase - but not as much - from £1.00 to £1.33.

The Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing is a vital piece of transport infrastructure that has brought huge economic benefits to the country. But currently it can’t meet the growing demands of drivers so we need to plan properly for the longer term.

– Roads Minister Mike Penning MP

The government say free-flow charging will help traffic to flow faster. It should be introduced by Autumn 2014.

The Roads Minister's plans include:

  • A full review of the Local Residents' Discount Scheme
  • The option for a new Lower Thames crossing
  • Commitment to introducing free-flow charging