A new road crossing for the Thames?
If you’ve wasted hours queueing on the M25 to cross the River Thames in recent times, then a government announcement of a consultation for a possible new crossing may come as welcome news. The government has published the first of its strategies for the UK’s roads in a bid to ensure more robust long-term investment planning and is also consulting on the location for a new crossing of the Thames.
The strategies are being drawn up with local authorities on the recommendation of the ‘Fresh Start for the Strategic Road Network’ report. They follow criticism of government infrastructure spend by the Public Accounts Committee and calls for spend to be controlled by an independent commission.
So what’s the chance of getting a new Thames crossing, and which other roads could be upgraded? The first strategy covers the A1 west of Newcastle, the A12 in Essex and the M62 linking Manchester to Leeds. Strategies will be produced for all routes in the strategic road network by spring 2014 in time for the next comprehensive spending review in 2015.
Roads Minister Stephen Hammond said, “I am confident the evidence that we will gather will enable us to develop long term investment plans that better balance nation and local priorities allowing us to invest in improvements where they will have the most impact.”
The first stage of the process is designed to establish a process and gather evidence, while the second stage from spring 2014 on will aim to come up with solutions to problems.
As to the River crossing itself, apparently three locations are being consulted on. One is at the existing Dartford crossing and another at the A2 Swanscombe peninsula with the A1089. The third option of connecting the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 also includes the option of widening the A229 between the M2 and M20.
Hammond said, “There are some tough decisions to be made, but this is the first step in making sure that the residents, businesses and motorists who rely on the crossing receive the service they expect and deserve in the years to come.
“I encourage anyone who uses the existing crossing or has an interest in the location of the new crossing to let us have their views on these proposals. This will enable us to make the right decision on the location of the new crossing.”