Highways England is inviting tenders on two roads contracts worth a combined £1.9 billion to build routes north and south of the River Thames on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, the most ambitious roads project for a generation.
For more than 65 years the Dartford Crossing has stood as the only crossing between Kent and Essex, a critical link carrying vital food, goods and services between the manufacturing centres, ports, and distribution hubs of the South East, Midlands and North of England. It is designed for 135,000 vehicles a day, but it now often sees 180,000 a day use it, leading to long delays which businesses across the country say act as a barrier to trade and jobs.
The Lower Thames Crossing will improve journeys by almost doubling road capacity across the River Thames east of London. The two successful bidders will build a total of 14.3 miles of new roads that will connect the longest road tunnel in the UK to the strategic road network. If given the green light this reliable new route will help to unlock a wealth of long-term economic benefits, as well as play an important role in the country’s economic recovery by supporting over 22,000 jobs during construction, including hundreds of opportunities for apprentices, graduates, and local businesses.
The tender process is for two roads contracts:
The Kent Roads contract, which is a two-stage design and build contract for the part of the route from the A2/M2 corridor to 1km south of the southern tunnel entrance, with strategic utilities and environmental interfaces.
The Roads North of the Thames contract, is also a two-stage design and build contract delivering the route from 1km north of the northern tunnel entrance to Junction 29 of the M25. New link roads are required to connect the route with the M25, A13 and A1089.
Matt Palmer, Lower Thames Crossing executive director, said: “Our roads connect us – we rely on them, and they are a critical part of our economic recovery and low-carbon future. The Lower Thames Crossing is the most ambitious road project this country has seen since the M25 was completed 35 years ago. These contracts show our commitment to this project, which will support 22,000 jobs during its construction and provide a huge economic boost to the UK economy when it opens for traffic.
“Our challenge is to build the new crossing in a way that not only supports the next generation of low carbon vehicles, but minimises our footprint, and allows us to enhance the natural environment and leave a positive legacy for our neighbours and users.”
The successful bidders and their supply chain will help Highways England achieve their ambition of making the Lower Thames Crossing the most environmentally sustainable road project ever delivered in the UK. They will support delivery of landscaping that will increase the biodiversity value of the area by 15% by planting over 260 hectares of new woodland, converting 400 hectares of arable land into semi-natural habitats, and creating new ponds, waterways, ditches and hedgerows. They will also be responsible for seven new green bridges that connect habits and species either side of the new road.
Visit www.highwaysengland.co.uk/our-work/lower-thames-crossing/ for more information on this project.