Committee calls for action over new Thames crossing

March 18 2015  

Committee calls for action over new Thames crossing

Government must step up its efforts to build a new river crossing in the lower Thames area, the Transport Select Committee urged on Tuesday.

The Committee criticises the current Parliament's "lack of meaningful progress" made on delivering the crossing, which it argues would alleviate existing traffic pressures at Dartford.

“The Dartford Crossing is the least reliable section of the strategic road network,” said Committee chair Louise Ellman MP. “Yet ministers have done little over the past five years to build the kind of consensus between local authorities that is required in order to reconcile national transport objectives and respect local concerns.

“Worse, they have now said no final decision will be taken until as late as 2016,” she added.

The report also recommends that Government works with the Greater London Authority to establish a company with direct responsibility for delivering new crossings in east London.

It said that formation of a special purpose company could help to avoid a repeat of problems with the Thames Gateway Bridge, which was shelved in 2008.

The Committee however welcomed Transport for London’s proposals for a package of new river crossings to the east of Tower Bridge, describing this as “long overdue”.

“Without new crossings congestion will continue to get worse and the area will never realise its full potential,” said Ms Ellman.

London Chamber of Commerce & Industry chief executive Colin Stanbridge commented: “Local political squabbles have long held up progress on this much needed area of development and strong leadership would help to bridge the divide and create political consensus.”

On a national scale the report warns that the UK has failed to adequately plan river crossings, leaving many estuary areas with inadequate transport capacity and poor connectivity. Therefore the Committee calls on Government to take a far more long term approach when planning new bridges and tunnels.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are committed to a new Lower Thames Crossing which will be a crucial part of this country’s road network.

“It is vital that we make the right choice for the location, which is why we are carrying out a detailed assessment of two options. This work will not delay the delivery of the crossing which is still on course to open by 2025.”

(Photo: Transport for London)

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