Mr Thomas Whittington from Highways England will be attending to speak on this issue.
The Board was reminded that at the meeting held on 11 June 2019, the Chairman had enquired about work programmed to take place surrounding the Dartford crossing, designed to alleviate traffic congestion issues.
It was noted that a sum of £10 million had been allocated for this work, and that such works were the responsibility of Highways England.
Accordingly the Chairman introduced Mr Thomas Whittingham the Highways England Route Sponsor M25 London Orbital (East) who has responsibility for works in the area.
Mr Whittingham explained that the funding identified had been devoted to the following four major work schemes in and around the crossing:
Junction 2 Improvements
This scheme was completed in August, and consisted of the provision of an extra lane on the northern side of the junction, improved signage and traffic signals, upgraded road markings and the installation of a red light enforcement camera. This scheme has been constructed to reduce congestion and improve safety at the junction
Junction 1b Improvements
The blocking of the roundabout at this junction, which causes major disruption in the surrounding roads stretching back into Dartford Town Centre, is of major concern. The yellow boxes at the junction have been refreshed, and signing erected to deter motorists from misusing the junction.
A scheme is currently in design to install cameras to enforce the misuse of the yellow box markings. Detailed design is programmed to complete in March 2020, with construction in summer 2020.
The cameras will be monitored and enforcement carried out by Kent Police. This in itself is a unique situation outside the TfL area, as camera enforcement of this nature is not permitted, and special arrangements are required to facilitate this.
Junction 1a Improvements
The proposal is to widen the A206 westbound between the Littlebrook roundabouts from two lanes to three lanes by converting the currently isolated footpath on the overbridge. This will increase capacity at the junction and provide a dedicated lane for traffic wanting to enter the A282 northbound slip and two dedicated lanes for the westbound wanting to travel towards Dartford.
This scheme is currently in detailed design, which is programmed to be completed by March 2020. Construction funding is being bid for in 2020/21.
Thurrock Approach Road
When the QE II Bridge is closed (maintenance/incidents/high wind speeds) it is necessary to divert southbound traffic through the east northbound tunnel. At present this is achieved using vehicles crossovers in the central reservation either side of the tunnels.
The crossover on the northern side of the crossing is sub-standard and only allows single lane traffic with a maximum speed of 30mph to use it when in operation. The new crossover will allow two lanes of traffic with a speed limit of 50mph to use it when in operation. This will reduce congestion at the crossing when the crossovers are in operation.
The scheme is currently in detailed design, with construction programmed for Spring/Summer 2020.
Members welcomed the presentation given by Mr Whittingham but expressed serious concern at:
· The current non - enforcement of the traffic regulations on the junction 1b roundabout;
· The length of time being taken to introduce measures to alleviate congestion in Dartford;
· The difficulties encountered in making provision for camera enforcement;
· The possible provision of alternative schemes to alleviate traffic congestion;
a) The closure of the on slip road at junction 1b,
b) The attendance of Kent Police to manage traffic when congestion is at its worst,
c) Additional traffic signals on the off slip road leading to the junction 1b roundabout to filter traffic,
d) The introduction of a left turn restriction on Bob Dunn Way “Mercedes” roundabout to alleviate blocking,
· The current lack of communication about congestion issues with the public.
Mr Kite expressed particular disappointment at the length of time taken to introduce schemes and asked that Highways England liaise with him, as Leader of Dartford Council, to investigate ways to expedite the works.
Mr Whittingham undertook to report the matters raised by the Board, and members of the public, to colleagues at Highways England and agreed to respond to these and provide a progress report on the schemes to the meeting scheduled for March 2020.
The Chairman thanked Mr Whittingham for his report and the public for their contributions, and asked that he be invited to attend again in March 2020.