The crossing will boost local, regional and national economies, and form an essential part of the UK’s transport infrastructure, improving connections across the country.
The Lower Thames Crossing will benefit the Lower Thames area around Kent, Thurrock and Essex. It will:
- improve journey times along parts of the A127 and M20
- cut congestion on approach roads to the Dartford Crossing (including parts of the M25, A13 and A2)
- increase capacity across the Thames from four lanes in each direction currently (at Dartford) to seven lanes each way (Dartford plus the Lower Thames Crossing)
- allow nearly double the amount of traffic to cross the Thames
The Lower Thames Crossing will have:
• approximately 14.5 miles (23km) of new roads connecting the tunnel to the existing road network
• three lanes in both directions with a maximum speed limit of 70mph
• improvements to the M25, A2 and A13, where the Lower Thames Crossing connects to these roads
• new structures and changes to existing ones (including bridges, buildings, tunnel entrances, viaducts and utilities such as electricity pylons) along the length of the new road
• two 2.5 mile (4km) tunnels, one for southbound traffic, one for northbound traffic crossing beneath the river
• a free-flow charging system, where drivers do not need to stop but pay remotely, similar to that at the Dartford Crossing
We want the Lower Thames Crossing to achieve the following:
• To support sustainable local development and regional economic growth in the medium to long term
• To be affordable to government and users
• To achieve value for money
• To minimise adverse impacts on health and the environment
• To relieve the congested Dartford Crossing and approach roads, and improve their performance by providing free-flowing, north-south capacity
• To improve resilience of the Thames crossings and the major road network
• To improve safety
£ billions of additional economic benefits
for the country, through increased investment and business opportunities
90% extra road capacity
created across the river connecting Essex and Kent
70mph, 14.5 mile route
offering new connections
Thousands of new jobs
created by the crossing
£5.3bn – £6.8bn
estimated cost of the scheme
+47,000 responses to 2016 Route Consultation
making it the largest ever consultation for a UK road project
The journey to the Lower Thames Crossing
A Department for Transport (DfT) study
Owing to increasing demand at the Dartford Crossing, the DfT looks at options for an additional crossing at five potential locations (A, B, C, D and E). The two furthest east (D and E) are ruled out as they are too far from the existing crossing. Rail is also ruled out.Read more
Named priority infrastructure project
The government recognises the need for a new crossing by naming it a top 40 priority project in its National Infrastructure Plan.Read more
DfT study into 3 options
The DfT commissioned a study to assess the 3 remaining location options.
DfT public consultation
The DfT carries out a public consultation to ask for views on the location of the proposed crossing.Read more
Response to 2013 consultation published
The response to the consultation confirms the need for a new crossing between Kent, Thurrock and Essex. Option B is ruled out; the remaining two locations (A and C) are investigated further.Read more
DfT asks Highways England to assess the economic, traffic, environmental and community impacts for locations A and C. Location C is recommended as it offers far greater economic benefits and congestion relief.Read more
A public consultation asks for feedback on proposals at location C, including three routes north of the river in Thurrock and Essex, and two south of the river in Kent.
Preferred Route Announcement
The Secretary of State for Transport announces the preferred route, a tunnel under the River Thames east of Gravesend and Tilbury (location C, route three with the Western Southern Link).Read more
Highways England holds a second public consultation.Have your say
Highways England holds a supplementary consultation.Have your say
Pre-examination of DCO application
You can register with the Planning Inspectorate as an interested party and make formal representations about the project. You will then be kept informed of progress and opportunities to be involved. The Planning Inspectorate will then examine our application.
Submission of DCO application
Subject to the outcome of the consultation, we will make our submission to the Planning Inspectorate, which will include feedback from the consultation. This is called the DCO application.Learn more
The Planning Inspectorate has 28 days to decide if the application meets the required standards to proceed, including whether our consultation has been adequate.
The Planning Inspectorate will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport within three months of the end of the examination period.
The Secretary of State then has three months to issue a decision. This will be followed by a public announcement.
If approved, construction could begin soon after.
Opening – 2027/2028*
The Lower Thames Crossing opens to traffic.
* We are using a date range of 2027 to 2028 to account for the natural uncertainty in developing a project of this size and scale. As we gather more information from consultation, our ground investigations and engagement with the supply chain, we will gain more certainty.