Lower Thames Crossing - The need for the Lower Thames Crossing

Its unique position as the only road across the Thames east of London makes the Dartford Crossing one of the most strategically vital roads in the UK, connecting people to jobs, businesses to customers, and some of the country's biggest ports and distribution hubs.

But it cannot keep up with unprecedented demand. Despite being carefully managed 24/7 the huge number of vehicles that use it make it one of the country’s most unreliable roads, causing misery for millions of motorists and acting as a handbrake on the economy.

The proposed Lower Thames Crossing will almost double road capacity across the Thames east of London – easing congestion on the Dartford Crossing, improving journeys across the south east, and creating a reliable new route across the river.

The Dartford Crossing - a vital link

Its unique location makes the Dartford Crossing one of the UKs most strategically important roads

  • It’s the only road crossing of the Thames east of London – compared to 16 between the Blackwall Tunnel and west London
  • It carries over 50 million vehicles a year – close to 40% of these are goods vehicles
  • A significant amount of the UK's port freight travels through the Port of Tilbury and Dover, London Gateway and Medway – which all rely on the Dartford Crossing

Unprecedented demand causes congestion and delays

The crossing cannot keep up with the huge demand, making the crossing one of the UK's most congested and unreliable roads

  • Initially opened in 1963, an additional tunnel with 2 extra lanes was opened in 1981 and the QEII bridge with an additional 4 lanes was opened in 1991
  • Designed for 135,000 vehicles a day, it is now operating over capacity and is regularly used by over 150,000
  • On its busiest days is it used by up to 180,000 a day – this will be the norm by 2042
  • Northbound in the evening peak - 19 out of 20 journeys are delayed, two thirds take twice as long as they should, three times a month they take five times longer

A dedicated team keep Dartford moving

A dedicated team works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to keep the crossing open and businesses and people moving – but a new, long term solution is needed

  • 3,000 incidents a year - one of the highest incident rates on the road network
  • 300 people, including 100 traffic officers, are dedicated to 1 mile of road – the largest team of its kind in the UK
  • A unique system to escort abnormal loads and dangerous good vehicles through the crossing safely means one of the tunnels closes on average every 15 minutes during peak times - this adds up to around 27 days per year

Watch: A typical Friday on the Dartford Crossing

The Lower Thames Crossing would ease congestion on the Dartford Crossing and improve journeys across the region

  • The new crossing would almost double road capacity across the Thames, east of London
  • It would ease congestion on the Dartford Crossing by taking over 13 million vehicles away – freeing up almost a full lane of traffic
  • It would also reduce traffic volumes and ease congestion on heavily used sections of the A2, A13 and M25
  • Reduce traffic spilling back onto local roads as traffic flows more freely onto the major A roads and motorways – reducing the need for traffic to use local roads to bypass congestion
  • Reduce how often the western tunnel at Dartford needs to close to allow abnormal loads and dangerous goods vehicles to pass through safely
  • Provide three lanes in each direction along most of the route, with a 70mph speed limit
  • Will improve journey times – 30% improvement at Dartford and 46% better between Tilbury and Medway Innovation Park via the new crossing
  • Bring an additional 400,000 jobs to within an hour’s commute of local communities

Show your support for the Lower Thames Crossing

Tens of thousands of people and businesses agree that the Lower Thames Crossing is needed.

To demonstrate this widespread support for the scheme, we have created an interactive map that gives you the opportunity to add your pin of support.

Visit our support map and add your support too.  

Lower Thames Crossing - The need for the Lower Thames Crossing