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".
180 vehicles were stopped by Kent Police as part of their ANPR day of action along the M25.
Vehicles activated ANPR cameras along the static road check points when there is information to suggest the vehicle has issues around criminal use.
Automatic number plate recognition teams worked with officers from the Metropolitian Police Service to catch outstanding offenders using the M25 on Wednesday 11th September.
Of the 180 vehicles stopped:
26 people were searched
3 vehicles were searched
7 vehicles were seized
29 fixed penalty notices were issued
6 arrests were made - 4 for outstanding warrants, 1 for fraud and 1 for drugs.
Superintendent Andrea Bishop, who led Op Lockdown for Kent Police, said she was pleased with how the day of action went.
She said: "ANPR technology helps us catch criminals who use the road networks to go about their criminal activities."
Major improvements on the M25 have moved onto the next stage.
New gantries and signs will be installed and the road layout during the roadworks will be modified as the scheme to increase vital capacity between Junction 5 and Junction 6/7 progresses.
The work is being carried out in a series of overnight closures.
John Payne, the Highways Agency Project Manager has said, "As we move on and work on different sections of the project, we need to alter the road layout as we go.
"To minimise the disruption to road users, we have planned the closures to take place over night, when traffic flows are lowest.
The anti-clockwise M25 carriageway is due to be closed, weather permitting, overnight between 10pm and 6am, between junctions 6 and 5 on:
- Saturday 21st September
- Saturday 28th September
- Saturday 5th October
- Saturday 16th November
- Saturday 23rd November
- Saturday 30th November
The man arrested at the M25 Dartford Crossing security alert has been detained under the Mental Health Act and taken to a secure unit. Drivers were stuck for more than seven hours in nine-mile tailbacks on Friday evening after the 27-year-old got off a Dover-bound coach and ran to rough ground.
He was arrested on suspicion of making a bomb hoax. Kent Police found a suspicious looking device on the coach. An Ordnance Disposal Team examined the wired cylindrical item, but found it was safe. The arrested man, who lives in Bournemouth in Dorset, is now under the care of the Health Authority.