Lower Thames Crossing

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Lower Thames Crossing
Map showing revised (November 2017) option for Lower Thames Crossing
Location Kent/Essex
Proposer Department for Transport
Status Aspiration
Type road

The Lower Thames Crossing, or Third Thames Crossing, is a proposed new road crossing of the River Thames estuary linking the county of Kent with the county of Essex through Thurrock. The route was confirmed on 12 April 2017 by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. It is designed to relieve the pressure on the existing A282 Dartford Crossing. After consideration, changes have been made to the plan to make it less obtrusive: the junction with the A226 has been eliminated, and the upgrade extended to the M2, junction 1.

The crossing itself will cost £6.8 billion, but investment in local roads is also likely to be necessary to deal with the predicted increases in traffic once the crossing opens.[1]

The route[edit]

Key elements will be a twin bore tunnel crossing under the River Thames east of Gravesend and Tilbury (Location C), linked north of the river by a new road to the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 (Route 3) while south of the river the new road will directly join the A2 at Thong east of Gravesend (the Western Southern Link).[2] It will run west of Shorne, not to the east as a result of consultations.[3]

There will be three junctions: Orsett on the A13, Thong on the A2 and north-bound slip roads on the M25 at junction 29. Junctions have been removed on the A226 south of Chalk and on the A128 at Chadwell St Mary in Essex.[4]


In January 2009, the Department for Transport proposed three major options to increase capacity east of London over the River Thames to be built downstream of the existing Dartford Crossing and an additional proposal to increase capacity at the Dartford Crossing.[5]

  • Option A: Building an additional (1 mile) road crossing at the current Dartford Crossing (A282) in addition to the current two tunnels (north) and four-lane bridge (South).
    • Option A Route 14: Proposed tunnel (approximately 7 miles in length, offering a four-lane 70 mph motorway link between the end of the M25 in Essex to the beginning of the M25 in Kent – essentially completing the London Orbital Road). This proposal suggested 40% of strategic long distance traffic would use this new route, significantly freeing up the overcapacity 50 mph A282 crossing. Area covering junctions 2, 1, 31 and 30.
  • Option B: A new road crossing in the Swanscombe Peninsula area, connecting the A2 near Dartford (south) to the A1089 road, north of Tilbury Docks. This option was dropped in 2013 because of the proposed Paramount Park.
  • Option C: A new road crossing connecting the M2/A2 in the south with the M25, which might be linked via a proposed new Thames flood barrier. The route from the north would pass close to or through North Ockendon, South Ockendon, Orsett, Chadwell St Mary, West Tilbury, East Tilbury, across West Tilbury Marshes before it crossed the Thames just to the east of Gravesend and Thurrock. It would join the M2/A2 in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in the Special Landscape Area. This proposed link is also within the Kent Downs AONB and special landscape area. According to the DfT, this long route would have "considerable environmental impacts". Option C has several variations, three possible routes to the north of the river, known as Option C Routes 1,2 and 3 respectively. To the south of the river, the two options are known as the Western and Eastern southern links.
  • Also: Increased capacity on the current Dartford Crossing at a lower cost. This option did not accommodate the predicted traffic growth in the longer term.

Advocates of the proposal argue that a new crossing is needed to alleviate congestion at the Dartford Crossing.

Currently, there is a ferry service operating between Gravesend and Tilbury,[6] which predominantly carries foot passengers and bicycles, Monday to Saturday.[7]


A study on a Lower Thames Crossing providing "relief to east side of the M25 between Kent and Essex" was included in the 1989 white paper Roads for Prosperity.[8]

The Lower Thames Crossing was recommended for further investigation in the 2002 ORBIT Multi-Model Study, which examined orbital transport problems around London.[9][10]

In 2008, Metrotidal Ltd proposed the "Medway-Canvey Island crossing", a £2bn to £4bn combined road and rail tunnel between Medway and Canvey Island that would include a surge-tide barrier and a tidal power plant, which was supported by Kent County Council, Essex County Council, the Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership and the Department for Transport.[11]

Following delays in any proposal being put forward by central government, Essex and Kent County Councils intend to create a joint proposal for the construction of a crossing.[12]

In January 2009, the Department for Transport published its own proposals.[5]

In October 2010, a study commissioned by Kent County Council proposed that the northern end of the crossing should bypass the M25 and continue on to connect to the M11 (and Stansted Airport) directly.[13] This would presumably be an adaptation of Option C.

In October 2012, plans were announced for a major theme park[14] to be built near Swanscombe. Commenting on road and motorway access to the park, Kent County Council highways chief Councillor Brian Sweetland said that he was looking at a significant variation to Option B: "The possibility of a new Thames Crossing at the Swanscombe peninsula must now be taken very seriously".[15]

On 12 April 2017 the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling confirmed Option C as the preferred route for the Lower Thames Crossing.[16]

In November 2017, Highways England announced that its 'current thinking' for the design of the route encompassed a number of changes from that of the original public consultation: the route would now avoid a landfill site near Ockendon; the junction with the A13 would be redesigned and the junctions with the A128 and A226 would be removed. Furthermore, the A2 would be widened from its junction with the new crossing approach road to Junction 1 of the M2.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://www.kentonline.co.uk/medway/news/crossing-to-cost-6-8bn-without-a-penny-for-local-roads-195615/
  2. ^ Morby, Aaron. "Route picked for £8bn Lower Thames Crossing | Construction Enquirer". www.constructionenquirer.com. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  3. ^ Sandhu, Rajdeep (12 April 2017). "Thames Crossing to go east of Gravesend on Wednesday 12 April 2017". BBC News. 20:07. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Executive summary" (PDF). Improvements and major road projects:Lower Thames Crossing. Highways England. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Dartford River Crossing Study into Capacity Requirement". Department for Transport. 20 April 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 May 2010. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  6. ^ "Transport – Ferry Services". Thurrock Council. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  7. ^ "Gravesend to Tilbury Passenger Ferry". Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  8. ^ Roads for Prosperity. The Department of Transport. p. Table 2.
  9. ^ "The Orbit Multi-Modal Study:Developing a long-term sustainable management strategy for the M25" (PDF). Association for European Transport. 2003. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  10. ^ "M25 LONDON ORBITAL TRANSPORT STUDY REPORTS". www.gov-news.org. 22 November 2002. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  11. ^ "Medway-Canvey Island Thames Crossing, United Kingdom". Road Traffic Technology. Retrieved 1 October 2009.
  12. ^ "Time for Action on Lower Thames Crossing". Essex County Council. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  13. ^ "New bridge over Thames 'should link with M11' in Essex". BBC. 25 October 2010. Retrieved 25 October 2010.
  14. ^ Webb, Sam (8 October 2012). "Hollywood comes to Kent: Developers unveil plans for £2bn Paramount theme park to rival Disneyland Paris that will create 27,000 jobs". Daily Mail.
  15. ^ Brian, Sweetland (8 October 2012). "Reaction to £2bn Paramount theme park for Kent". Kent Messenger.
  16. ^ "Lower Thames Crossing Consultation". Highways England. 12 April 2017.
  17. ^ "Lower Thames Crossing – In my area". roads.highways.gov.uk. Retrieved 6 November 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°26′57″N 0°24′53″E / 51.4492°N 0.4147°E / 51.4492; 0.4147