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Dartford-Thurrock Crossing: Road Traffic

Question for Department for Transport

UIN 20420, tabled on 16 December 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to help reduce traffic congestion on the northbound approaches to the Dartford Tunnel.

Answered on

11 January 2016

Removing the need to pay at barriers has already reduced congestion and eased traffic flow. Latest data shows that Dart Charge has successfully improved journeys through the Crossing with average journey times northbound almost 5 minutes quicker than before the charge was introduced.

A new road layout has been introduced at the Crossing including a new Traffic Safety System on the northbound carriageway on the approach to the tunnels. This improves the way oversized vehicles or those carrying dangerous goods are prevented from entering the tunnels and holds traffic to allow the safe escort of hazardous goods vehicles or in the event of an incident or congestion in the tunnels.

However, Highways England recognises that there is still more work to do. Planned improvements include:

  • Fine-tuning the operation of the new Traffic Safety System to continue to maximise traffic flow while ensuring safety to users.
  • Working with Kent County Council as a matter of priority to improve local traffic flows. In particular, this will assess how traffic signals can be better synchronised where the local road network meets the strategic roads network to get the best out of the network and what improvements can be made at key junctions.
  • Work with the freight industry to educate drivers of restricted vehicles, including what lane or route to take to avoid being stopped at the barriers.

I have written to Highways England requesting an update on their progress.