Traffic worse at Dartford Crossing after toll booths removed, say traders
Photo: John Westhrop
Traders say multi-million pound changes at the Dartford Crossing have made congestion worse.
They are angry traffic has worsened in Dartford, despite a £62m investment abolishing toll booths.
They say queuing traffic waiting to cross from Dartford into Essex is a nightmare, hindering suppliers and putting off customers wanting to park in Princes Road and surrounding areas.
Their complaints come on top of a report before KCC that high levels of exhaust emissions are damaging people’s health, particularly for Dartford and Thurrock residents living close to crossing approaches.
It says: “To some extent this is borne out by the fact Dartford has higher lung cancer rates than other districts in Kent and the transport related air pollution increases the risk of mortality, particularly from cardiopulmonary causes.”
Queues of traffic will only make the situation worse, but traders say its affecting their business as well as their health.
John Bantick, owner of Driverhire employment agency in Princes Road, who also owns the next door sandwich bar Crumbz, said: “Congestion has got worse since the so-called improvements. Queues stretch some two-and-a-half miles from Princes Road as they wait to cross into Essex.
“It starts in the rush hours from 7am to 9.30am and gets even worse from 4pm to 6pm, just stationary outside my premises. When the toll booths were in place, things were slightly better.
“It’s taking 20 minutes for that traffic to travel just two miles. When the toll gates were in place the road eventually opened up as it went through into some 14 lanes but now it’s been reduced to two sets of two lanes going into Essex with speed restrictions.”
Dave Breeze, owner of the Orchard Garage in Park Road, said: “Things were never good here but since the Dartford Crossing changes it’s got worse – it’s just gridlock. Our suppliers can be caught up for 45 minutes to reach us, just travelling the length of our road.”
It is the same story from Kim Leigh, manager at Coral branch shop, Princes Road. She said: “I see no improvement – it’s bad almost every single day. I live in Belvedere and it can take me over an hour to travel here.
“Additionally the roundabouts in the area are more congested with lorries blocking its outlets, unlike London when you get a ticket from cameras doing that sort of thing.”
Pressure for a third crossing at Dartford is building as councillors in neighbouring Gravesham have appealed against a route east of Gravesend.
A Highways England spokesperson said: “Relieving congestion and speeding up journeys at the Dartford Crossing is what Dart Charge is all about. Our data shows that journeys through the Crossing have improved by an average by 3½ minutes northbound and 7½ southbound.
“But it’s also important that local journeys are improved and we still have more work to do, working with partners to ensure that all the approaches to the tunnels in Kent are working as well as they possibly can.”
The number of lanes through the Crossing had not been reduced. It remained as four lanes in both directions.