Britain's longest road tunnel is revealed!
Plans for a new six-lane toll tunnel under the Thames that will almost double the amount of traffic that can cross the river east of London were unveiled this morning.
The new £6.8billion Lower Thames Crossing will be expanded from a four-lane to six-lane highway and at 2.4 miles long will be Britain's longest road tunnel, according to the latest proposals.
Highways England, which will today begin a 10-week public consultation over the plans, said they hoped the road could be operational by 2025.
Motorists will pay a toll to use the new tunnel according to Highways England, who are managing the project.
The level of the toll has not yet been decided, although a Highways England source confirmed it was their aim that any charge would be 'affordable'.
Drivers crossing the existing bridge and tunnels in nearby Dartford pay £2.50 for each crossing unless they have an account.
The government-owned company will launch a 10-week public consultation on the latest designs on Wednesday.
The scheme's budget has risen to a range of £5.3 billion to £6.8 billion due to more detailed design work and ground investigations.
A previous estimate put the range at £4.4 billion to £6.2 billion. Other changes in the latest designs include:
- A new rest and service area to the west of East Tilbury
- Removal of the proposed Tilbury link road to reduce traffic on the local road network
- Lowering the road by up to six metres in places to reduce its visual impact
The 14.5 mile route is expected to open in 2025 and will connect the M2 near Rochester in Kent and the M25 in Essex between North and South Ockenden.
It will include a 2.4 mile tunnel, which would be the UK's longest road tunnel.
This will be the first new crossing of the river east of London since Dartford's Queen Elizabeth II bridge opened in 1991.
The only existing route for motorists is the Dartford Crossing, which consists of the bridge and two tunnels.
It is used for 50 million journeys annually and is often the scene of frustration for motorists stuck in traffic jams for several hours following accidents.
The new crossing is expected to reduce traffic at Dartford by 22 per cent. Public transport groups claim ministers should instead focus on improving rail links.
There are also fears that traffic using the new crossing will blight communities with pollution on approach roads.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the crossing will 'transform journeys, create new business opportunities in Kent and Essex and unlock productivity across the UK'.
The scheme's project director, Tim Jones, described it as 'the biggest single road upgrade since the M25 was completed more than 30 years ago'.
10 October 2018