This year will be an important year for the progress of the Lower Thames Crossing.
Since the announcement last April that the crossing will be built east of Gravesend, work has begun to ensure it is designed and built in a way to enhance the area.
The decision means that Dartford has escaped up to eight years of roadworks and the nightmare of another crossing impacting on our local roads.
This crossing comprises of two 3-lane tunnels and will connect Kent to Essex. It will give motorists a real alternative to the current crossing at Dartford by adding 70% extra road capacity.
Over the last few months teams from Highways England have been engaging with communities to ensure the end result is sustainable to ensure local and regional growth.
As well as providing better journeys for motorists in the area, the aim of the river crossing is to strengthen and link local communities, to create thousands of jobs, add billions to the economy and provide much needed extra road capacity in the south east.
This multi-billion crossing, which is being built well away from Dartford, will offer motorists a real alternative and open the whole area to new investment.
I have always said that any new crossing needed to be well away from the current crossing in Dartford, which has been working over capacity for many years. Our local roads have suffered the consequences of this for many years and, as we all know, any problem at the crossing can cause significant traffic problems in and around the town. It would not have been feasible to build another crossing at Dartford.
I look forward to seeing how plans for the new Lower Thames Crossing develop and taking part in the consultation process when it opens later this year.