Dartford Crossing Remote Payment Scheme

Project status:   Current


Start date:   April 2014
End date:  Spring 2015


Type:   Improvement Scheme
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Improvement Scheme

Part of our programme of improvements (generally with value <£10m)

Cost:  £48 million to £62 million


Managed by:   Area 5

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Progress

Main roadworks

There are four phases of roadworks, each requiring different traffic management arrangements.

The second phase of work commenced on Saturday 20 December 2014 and is due to be completed in May 2015. This phase includes further work on the A282 northbound (approaching Dartford tunnels) to remove the booths and plaza and install new traffic management measures.

Signage update

New and modified signs and signals have been installed and new sign faces uncovered to help drivers understand what they need to do.

This includes additional signage displaying vehicle height restrictions for the Dartford tunnels; 4.8m for the west tunnel, accessed by lanes 1 and 2 (left-hand lanes) and 5.0m for the east tunnel, accessed by lanes 3 and 4 (right-hand lanes).

Off-carriageway works

We are also carrying out other work away from the road itself, including:

  • ­roundabout realignments and changes to entry/exit slip roads.
  • site clearance
  • lighting
  • communication and data cable installation
  • emergency vehicle access and crossover points.

Time lapse photography

We have installed time lapse photography equipment at the crossing so we can track the significant physical changes taking place up to spring 2015.

One camera has been installed at the top of the QEII Bridge, almost 500 feet above ground and offers a fantastic view of the existing plaza and road layout arrangement.

The second camera is positioned on top of the operational control room and captures close-up views of the northbound plaza and southbound charging gantries.

Footage will be used to raise public awareness of Dart Charge and to enable the project team to view and assess the progress with the construction.

View our first timelapse video capturing the gantry installation.

View our second timelapse video capturing initial work on the A282 southbound to remove some of the booths and construct a temporary road layout.

View our third timelapse video capturing work on the A282 northbound to remove the old payment booths to enable us to begin the installation of new traffic management measures.

 

What is happening?

The way you pay the Dartford crossing charge has changed. You can no longer pay at the barriers; instead you need to pay in advance, or by midnight the day after crossing. The new scheme is known as Dart Charge - view full details on our news page.

Implementing Dart Charge requires substantial change to the operation of the Dartford crossing and to the existing road layout.

When and where is this happening?

Major improvement works are underway and will continue until spring 2015.

The crossing spans the River Thames between Dartford and Thurrock, approximately 16 miles east of central London, and forms a trunk road link (the A282) in the M25 London orbital motorway. This route is an important part of the strategic road network and forms a gateway to the major ports on the Kent and Essex coasts.

The main works are taking place on the A282 southbound (including QEII Bridge), A282 northbound (including the approaches to the Dartford tunnels).

Why is this happening and what will it cost?

The crossing sees around 50 million vehicle crossings each year. This is much higher than it was originally designed to carry, leading to congestion problems. The government has made improving the performance of the crossing a priority. Commitments have been made to reduce current levels of congestion and improve traffic flow at the crossing both now and in the future.

As part of this, a Road User Charge was introduced in 2003 to help manage the high demand for use of the crossing. Removing the need to stop and pay at the barriers will further help to improve traffic flow.

Initial set-up costs for the scheme are estimated to be within the range of £48 million - £62 million. This includes the estimated costs for:

  • vehicle detection, charging and enforcement management services
  • road infrastructure changes
  • traffic management and safety works

It also includes the Highways Agency internal project costs.

The Highways Agency has awarded the main contract for vehicle detection, charging and enforcement management services to sanef. If this contract extends to its maximum term of 10 years the full potential value of the services delivered within it will be up to £367 million. The design and implementation element of this is included in the total set-up cost estimate above.

How will the scheme be carried out?

While maintaining safety, and use of the crossing, we are:

  • reconfiguring the road layout to provide four traffic lanes in both directions
  • removing the plaza and payment booths
  • introducing new traffic control measures for restricted vehicles approaching the northbound tunnels

Due to the extent of the work required, it will take time to change the existing road layout. Traffic management arrangements, including temporary speed limits and lane restrictions are in place throughout the works. All lane layouts, speed limits and controls are clearly signed. 

Throughout the construction period, on the approach to the Dartford tunnels (A282 northbound), barriers will continue to operate in ‘nodding mode’ (lifting automatically as a vehicle approaches) to retain tunnel safety control. In May 2015 a new system of traffic signals and barriers will be in place to do this. Until then, existing barriers will continue to be used to: hold traffic in the event of an incident or congestion in the tunnels; prevent over-height vehicles from entering the tunnels; and, to allow the safe release of vehicles using the Crossing under escort. Our  Information for drivers of goods vehicles provides further information about lane disciplines and signage.

On the southbound carriageway, the barriers have been removed. This is because the QEII Bridge is subject to fewer vehicle-type restrictions than the tunnels.

What are the benefits?

The new payment arrangements and the improved road layout will reduce congestion and ease traffic flow. The full benefits of the scheme will be realised in spring 2015 when the main roadworks are complete.

How do I find out more information ?

More information will be posted on this project page as it becomes available. You can subscribe to be alerted when updates are made.

If you have any queries about this project you should contact the Highways Agency Information Line by emailing ha_​info@​highways.​gsi.​gov.​uk or calling 0300 123 5000.

Details of scheduled road works are provided to help you plan your journey. Please note that works are weather- and resource- dependent and may need to be cancelled at short notice. This information is not updated in real time so please check Traffic England for current traffic conditions. Diversion timings are approximate and act as a guide only.

Details of scheduled roadworks are provided to help you plan your journey. Please note that works are weather- and resource- dependent and may need to be cancelled at short notice. This information is not updated in real time so please check Traffic England for current traffic conditions. Diversion timings are approximate and act as a guide only.

Will there be roadworks?

Yes, roadworks are required.

Main roadworks

There are four phases of roadworks, each requiring different traffic management arrangements. An overview of the road layouts for each phase of work are outlined in the documents below.

The second phase of work commenced on Saturday 20 December 2014 and is due to be completed in May 2015. This phase includes further work on the A282 northbound (approaching Dartford tunnels) to remove the booths and plaza and install new traffic management measures.

Road layout update

The road layout on the approach to the Dartford tunnels (A282 northbound) has changed significantly:

  • The road now divides just after the Junction 1a exit slip road, with lanes 1 and 2 (left-hand lanes) dedicated to the west tunnel and lanes 3 and 4 (right-hand lanes) dedicated to the east tunnel. Vehicles joining at Junction 1a can only access lanes 1 and 2 and use the west tunnel, which has a height restriction of 4.8m.
  • All four lanes, divided between lanes 2 and 3, now pass through the lines of the old southbound booths and plaza, which have been converted to receive northbound traffic. Barriers continue to operate in ‘nodding mode’ (lifting automatically as a vehicle approaches) to maintain safety and manage traffic approaching the tunnels.
  • On leaving the plaza the two divided pairs of lanes diverge to pass around the construction area and arrive at the tunnel entrances.

This temporary road layout will enable us to develop the new traffic management measures, which will improve traffic flow.

How will you manage traffic?

During these works reduced speed limits apply and are clearly signed and enforced. Police are on site regularly, to encourage safe driver behaviour.

On the approach to the Dartford tunnels (A282 northbound), barriers will continue to operate in ‘nodding mode’ (lifting automatically as a vehicle approaches) to retain tunnel safety control. In May 2015 a new system of traffic signals and barriers will be in place to do this. Until then, existing barriers will continue to be used to: hold traffic in the event of an incident or congestion in the tunnels; prevent over-height vehicles from entering the tunnels; and, to allow the safe release of vehicles using the Crossing under escort.

Lane guidance, restrictions and traffic management

  • Tunnel height restrictions are 4.8m for the west tunnel, accessed by lanes 1 and 2 (left-hand lanes) and 5.0m for the east tunnel, accessed by lanes 3 and 4 (right-hand lanes). Vehicles over 4.8m in height are prohibited from using the Junction 1a northbound slip road and should, if under 5m, divert to Junction 1b. Vehicles joining at Junction 1a will only be able to access lanes 1 and 2 and use the west tunnel, which has a height restriction of 4.8m.
  • Failure to comply with the Junction 1a restriction is an offence and will cause considerable delay as the vehicles are turned away from the crossing. Our advice for large goods vehicles and fleet managers provides further information about lane disciplines and supporting signage.
  • Drivers wishing to exit at M25 anticlockwise Junction 31 should (subject to height) use lanes 1 and 2 and the west tunnel.

Will there be diversions?

Occasional overnight slip road closures will be required, with local diversions in place and clearly signed.

A282 northbound Junction 1a entry slip road closures. Diversions in place via the A282 southbound to Junction 1b, then onto the A282 Northbound main carriageway. See diversion route on the maps tab.

ActivityDate
Gantries in place30 May 2014
Dart Charge account registration opening5 November 2014
Roadworks to remove the booths and change the road layout begins28 November 2014
Dart Charge new payment arrangements go live30 November 2014
On-road construction work completedSpring 2015

Leaflet

Dart Charge foreign language booklet
This document is available from GOV.UK:
Important information for drivers of goods vehicles
This document is available from GOV.UK:
Dartford crossing remote payment scheme - Dart Charge leaflet
This document is available from GOV.UK:

Plan

Dartford crossing remote payment scheme - road layouts during roadworks
An overview of the road layouts for each phase of work