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Troubled Bridge Over Waters

19 June 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

Following the introduction of Dart Charge in November last year, a new traffic safety system has been put in place to identify oversized vehicles and those carrying hazardous goods with problems for lorries, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA). 

Traffic lights and automatic barriers will stop lorries continuing through the tunnel in the wrong lane and drivers could face fines and potential points on their licence if they do not comply with the restrictions. “The new road layout could lead to confusion and drivers who fail to follow the signs face penalties, so we are encouraging our members to updates their staff on the new regulations,” explained Natalie Chapman, Head of Policy for London, FTA.

The changes are designed to keep traffic flowing through the tunnel and reduce disruption for motorists. Previously all vehicles were held at the toll booths while an over-height vehicle was re-routed.

Vehicles 4.8m high or less can travel in any lane but those above 4.8m must approach in the two right hand lanes after junction 1a to travel through the higher east bore tunnel. Lorries over 5m are too tall for either tunnel and must leave at Junction 1a. HGVs found to be in the wrong lane will be stopped by a red traffic light and barrier system and turned back to Junction 1b.

“The new free-flow system at the tunnel is already showing benefits – queuing to pay at the booths was the major cause of congestion at the crossing, so anything that eases the problem is welcome,” admitted Ms Chapman. “However, it’s estimated that congestion will be back to the pre-Dart Charge level by 2020, so we would urge the government to make a decision on a much-need new Lower Thames crossing as soon as possible.”

Picture: The FTA has warned its members that changes in layout at the Dartford Bridge Crossing could lead to problems for lorries

Article written by Robin Snow | Published 19 June 2015


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