Lower Thames Crossing

The Lower Thames Crossing will be a new road crossing connecting Essex and Kent. Located east of Gravesend and Tilbury, this new crossing will offer the improved journeys, new connections and network reliability, and economic benefits that only a new, alternative crossing, away from Dartford, can provide.

Region:  South East
Start date:  TBC
Cost:  £4.4 - £6.2 billion
Status:  PLANNED
Type:  Major Scheme
End date:  TBC

Progress report

On 12 April 2017 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the preferred route for the Lower Thames Crossing. The crossing will be a bored tunnel crossing under the River Thames east of Gravesend and Tilbury.

The announcement of the preferred route follows a comprehensive review of options and extensive analysis of more than 47,000 responses to our 2016 public consultation. We have considered responses very carefully and carried out further assessment of the options before making our recommendation to Government.

This new crossing would provide more than 70% additional road capacity across the river connecting Essex and Kent, unlock billions of pounds in investment and create thousands of new jobs. The preferred route was carefully selected as the one that minimised community and environmental impacts as far as possible, whilst providing the transport and economic benefits of a modern, alternative crossing. This new 70mph, 13-mile route and crossing will be built to the highest safety standards incorporating the most up-to-date engineering and information technology.

We would like to thank the tens of thousands of people who contributed to our consultation last year and helped to influence this decision.

For more information on the outcome of the consultation, view our Response to Consultation and the Ipsos MORI analysis of findings report. You can also view the Post-Consultation Scheme Assessment Reports on our consultation website.

What next

We are still at an early stage of the project. The preferred route announcement paves the way for the next stage of development. We will progress the design and assessment of the preferred route in more detail, as well as carry out environmental surveys, more detailed air quality and noise impact assessments, further traffic modelling, and design around, for example, the junctions. We are currently conducting ecology surveys as part of our work for the scheme, which are an important part of understanding the wildlife’s use of the area and will inform design decisions.

We understand that a major new infrastructure project on this scale can cause worry and concern, particularly about the effect it will have on homes, communities and the environment. We are contacting land and property owners close to the route to help them understand potential impacts, their options and their rights, and have prepared a number of land and property documents for guidance. These are available to view in the media section.

There will be further opportunities to comment on the proposals we put forward and further public consultation. This is an integral element of the statutory planning and consenting process.

Wherever possible we will maximise opportunities for road users, our stakeholders and communities to be part of shaping and delivering this vitally important and ambitious project.

To stay informed on the project, please subscribe to our web alerts and follow us on Twitter @lowerthames.


Date Event
2009 Study of 5 Lower Thames crossing options
2011 National Infrastructure Plan includes Lower Thames Crossing as a top 40 priority infrastructure project
2012 Study into 3 remaining options
2013 Department for Transport public consultation (May 2013) Announces decision not to proceed with Option B (Dec 2013)
2014 Government publishes response to consultation and commissions Highways England to assess the remaining two options (July 2014)
2016 Lower Thames Crossing Route Consultation
2017 Preferred Route Announcement (April 2017)

Preferred Route Announcement

Following extensive assessment and a record breaking response to consultation, the Secretary of State for Transport has announced the preferred route for the Lower Thames Crossing. This is as follows:

  • a bored tunnel crossing under the River Thames east of Gravesend and Tilbury (Location C)
  • a new road north of the river which will join the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 (Route 3)
  • a new road south of the river which will join the A2 east of Gravesend (the Western Southern Link)
Preferred route map

About the route

Location C

A new crossing east of Gravesend and Tilbury offers the improved journeys, network reliability and economic benefits that only a new, alternative river crossing, away from Dartford, can provide. It also:

  • provides an entirely new transport connection at a critical part of the road network, creating more than 70% additional capacity across the Thames east of London
  • offers significant economic and transport benefits and safer, more reliable journeys
  • offers a modern, reliable alternative crossing east of London. Relieves pressure and congestion on the existing crossing and approach roads
  • opens opportunities for investment and regeneration, for businesses to grow, offering access to jobs, housing, leisure and retail facilities for local residents

A bored tunnel will minimise impacts on local communities with the least visual and noise impacts and will have the least impact on environmentally sensitive areas as it avoids specially designated areas along the riverside.

Route 3

A new road north of the river would run from a new junction on the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 and connect to the tunnel via the A13. This offers the transport and economic benefits of the shortest, most direct route, whilst minimising community and environment impacts overall.

The Western Southern Link

A new road south of the river would run from the tunnel to the A2 east of Gravesend. This route will provide the lowest impact on residential areas and communities, with the least environmental impacts on protected natural areas, countryside and landscape, combined with the transport and economic benefits of a route with a re-modelled A2 junction.

Why we need this scheme

For more than half a century the Dartford Crossing has been the only crossing to the east of London. Around 55 million journeys are made each year on the Crossing, six million more than it was designed for, and it suffers from closures due to incidents almost daily. This leads to congestion and unreliable journey times in Dartford and Thurrock, and restricts economic growth in this area and the country.


In 2009 the Department for Transport (DfT) commissioned a study identifying five locations for a crossing to potentially alleviate congestion at the existing Dartford Crossing. The two most easterly of these were found to be too far from the existing crossing to ease the problems at Dartford and were eliminated from further consideration.

In 2012 the DfT commissioned a study to assess three remaining location options:

  • Option A: located close to the existing crossing
  • Option B: connecting the A2 Swanscombe Peninsula with the A1089
  • Option C: connecting the A2/M2 with the M25 between junctions 29 and 30
  • Option C variation: which would additionally widen the A229 between the M2 and M20

In 2013 the DfT held a public consultation inviting views on:

  • the need for a crossing
  • where to locate a new crossing

Later that year the government announced its decision not to proceed with location option B because of the impact on local development plans and the limited transport benefits. The government published its response to the consultation in July 2014, confirming that there is a need for an additional crossing between Essex and Kent, but that there was no consensus about where it should be.

The government then commissioned Highways England to carry out a more detailed assessment of the remaining options (A and C). At both locations we developed engineering solutions and assessed them in terms of their economic, traffic, environmental and community impacts. The assessment also took into account the significant growth and development plans for the region.

This lead to public consultation, which took place from 26 January to 24 March 2016. We proposed connecting a new route from the A2/M2 south of the river to the M25 north of the river, crossing the Thames via a tunnel just east of Gravesend and Tilbury, with three possible route options north of the river and two south of the river.

More than 47,000 people took part in the consultation, making it the largest ever public consultation for a UK road project.

In April 2017 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the preferred route for the Lower Thames Crossing, marking a significant step forward in the project’s development. View our Response to Consultation.

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