London

Lower Thames road crossing project shows 'little progress'

Dartford Crossing
Image caption Two locations are currently being considered as sites for a Lower Thames road crossing

The government has been criticised for a lack of progress in building a Lower Thames road crossing.

The House of Commons Transport Committee said east London was "long overdue" a crossing but "little progress" had been made.

In a report, it said progress on an Essex-to-Kent bridge, was stunted by a short-term approach to planning.

But, the Department for Transport (DfT) said it was "committed" to the crossing and was considering the best location.

In a statement, DfT said: "It is vital that we make the right choice for the location... the new crossing is still on course to open by 2025."

'Limits economic growth'

The department is currently deciding between two options.

The first would see a bridge run alongside the existing A282 Dartford-Thurrock crossing, while the second would connect the M2 with the A13 and the M25 between junctions 29 and 30.

The committee's chairman Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, said: "A lack of cross-river capacity limits local and national economic growth.

"We call upon the government to take a far more long-term approach when planning new bridges and tunnels."

But James MacColl, from Campaign for Better Transport, said: "As London grows, we need to promote better value options such as cycling, walking and public transport, not to choke the city by encouraging more traffic."

The report by the committee also analysed the Dartford Crossing on the M25 and the transition of replacing tolls booths with alternative forms of payment.

It found 15% of users failed to pay during the first month and said lessons needed to be learned.

The committee's report also suggested that what was learned through its conclusions could be used for the 2017 scheduled opening of the Mersey Gateway Bridge in north west England.

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