Last week I met with representatives from Highways England again to get an update on what is being done to improve the ongoing traffic issues at the Dartford Crossing.
This followed October’s round table summit, with all the parties involved in the running and managing the crossing, aimed at achieving a multi-agency approach to the heavy congestion often experienced at the Dartford Crossing.
Highways England accepts it has to do more to tackle the congestion and it is working on ways of improving traffic flow. Since the Dart Charge was introduced and the toll booths removed, the results have been very disappointing.
During the meeting I was shown the crossing’s control centre and saw how it is managed. The tunnels weren’t designed for the high volumes of traffic we now have and so it doesn’t take much for tail backs to build up quickly. What took me by surprise was the impact of the current road works just north of the tunnels. This work is causing queues back to the tunnel, requiring the traffic lights to be used to manage the flow in the tunnel. This will continue to have a significant impact on traffic flow until the work is completed next year.
Work to change some key problematical areas in Dartford including the Bluestar Roundabout, the junction 1a roundabout and the slip road from Bob Dunn Way, is also being investigated by Highways England.
All theses improvements will help congestion but they are not going to solve all the problems. That is why I am convinced we need a further crossing away to the East of Gravesend. Motorists need an alternative option and only a new crossing, well away from Dartford, will bring a long-term solution.