This week there have been multiple problems at the Dartford Crossing causing traffic misery for thousands of people.
On Monday over-running engineering works caused one of the tunnels to remain shut until around 9am causing miles of tailbacks. On Tuesday there were more severe delays at the crossing due to a collision between two lorries.
The major consequence of these delays is that traffic moves to the local roads in Dartford causing massive queues in and around the town and surrounding villages.
This level of disruption strangles Dartford and prevents people trying to get to work or get their children to school and to generally go about their daily business. The cost to the local economy is enormous.
Like so many other people in Dartford, I was stuck in Monday’s traffic and we were all completely in the dark about what was being done to re-open the tunnel. It was therefore disappointing no one from Highways England was able to go on the local radio to let people know how long the problems were likely to last for.
Highways England needs to do much more to ensure it has contingency plans in place when there are major difficulties at the crossing. There needs to be some proper crisis management in place to let people know what is going on at the earliest opportunity.
These kinds of problems re-enforce the need for another Lower Thames Crossing well away from Dartford and east of Gravesend. People need an alternative, so when there is a problem, there is another route away from the queues and tailbacks.
I am pleased that more than 47,000 people took part in the consultation process regarding the new Lower Thames Crossing. This figure is the largest ever response to a transport consultation in this country which highlights the strength of feeling locally that improvements are needed to the road network around Dartford.