The barriers at the Dartford crossing are coming down but at what cost? Tom Savvides talks to Nigel Gray from the Highways Agency, drivers and Paul Watters from the AA.
– Nigel Gray, Highways Agency project manager
We are introducing new technology and road layout changes to change the way drivers pay to use the Crossing. Once it is fully implemented drivers will not have to stop at the barriers, but will pay for their journey remotely.
This will reduce congestion and ease traffic flow. The contract covers the development as well as the ongoing operation of the new payment system.
We remain on track to deliver this improvement in October 2014.
– Francois Gauthey, Chief Executive Officer of sanef
This contract award reflects our expert ability to deliver innovative, high quality projects in this field.
We are pleased to have been selected for this scheme and we are keen to work with the Highways Agency to deliver these vital improvements at the Dartford crossing and help ease the pain for the drivers who are justifiably frustrated with the congestion.
Whilst drivers will welcome a free-flow system at the Dartford Crossing, they will not welcome having to pay for it. The £367m road user charging scheme announced today is unnecessary and unacceptable.
The tunnel and bridge were actually already paid for in 2003 when tolls should have been dropped. The imposition of a charging scheme is no more than a tax disguised as a traffic demand management tool.
– Edmund King, AA president
Drivers from the north of Scotland can’t plan their trips to reach Dartford when the tolls are lifted at night. Drivers from next autumn will have to remember to pay the toll to avoid getting a penalty of up to £105.
Free-flow is of course better than barriers but this free-flow is nothing like its name implies as it will raise more than £70m from drivers each year.
– Roads Minister Stephen Hammond
I welcome this contract award which shows the Government delivering on its promise to provide improvements that will help traffic flow better at this crucial gateway.
This will help thousands of drivers who use the crossing every day, and benefit both the local and national economy.
Plans to improve motorists’ journeys over the Dartford to Thurrock River Crossing with an automated "free-flow" system have moved a step closer with the signing of a major contract, the Highways Agency says.
It has awarded a £367m contract to design, implement, deliver and operate the new charging system to European tolls agency sanef. The deal could last ten years.
Plans to upgrade the crossing's tolls have proved controversial with motorists' groups arguing that the costs of building the bridge and tunnel have already been covered - and that the toll itself was becoming "a tax".