On 12th April, Tory Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced the preferred route for the controversial, £6 billion Lower Thames Crossing project.
The new road tunnel will connect the M25 near North Ockendon in Essex with the A2 near Thong in Kent.The route would cross the widened A13 at Orsett and link land east of Tilbury to land east of Gravesend before heading to the A2 near Shorne.
It was said that the new Lower Thames Crossing could give the local economy an extra £8 billion and make more than 6,000 new jobs while reducing traffic on the overstretched Dartford Crossing. The route was chosen by the majority of nearly 47,000 respondents to a public consultation started in January 2016 on the best solution for reducing congestion.
The Lower Thames Crossing is expected to be particularly useful for businesses with 4.5 million heavy goods vehicles predicted to use it in its first year alone with improving traffic flow to London and the Channel ports.
As well as the new Crossing itself, another £10 million will be spent improving roads around the existing Dartford Crossing and investigating ways to cut down ‘rat-running’ through Dartford and Thurrock.
£66 million will also be used to widen the A13 Stanford-le-Hope bypass from two to three lanes to encourage more job creation, new house building, and connections to the ports. This is part of a £78.85 million Thurrock Council project currently planned for completion by the end of 2019.
While the new route was welcomed by most government and business figures, environmental campaigners and some residents claimed it would have a "detrimental affect" on local areas and objected to it being partly built on greenbelt land, especially south of the river.