Dartford Free-Flow Charging Project
Part of our programme of improvements (generally with value <£10m)
What is happening?
We are planning to reduce the current levels of congestion at Dartford Crossing by introducing newer technology and road layout changes to support a free-flow charging arrangement. Free-flow charging means that the collection and payment of the charge will be done remotely. Such an arrangement will improve traffic flow, reduce delays, and mean that you will not have to stop and pay the road user charge at the barriers.
There will be the opportunity to pay the charge in advance through a variety of methods, such as on-line, over the phone and at a number of retail outlets, including the provision to set up a pre-paid account for using the crossing. Drivers who fail to pay the charge will incur a penalty.
When and where is this happening?
The Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing (Dartford 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.
Public commitments have been made to tackle congestion at Dartford Crossing. This project is part of a package of measures to improve traffic flow in the short, medium, and longer term at the crossing. We are planning to introduce the new remote charging arrangements in October 2014. Engineering work to change the road layout will follow, and we expect all work on this project to be completed by summer 2015.
Why is this happening and what will it cost?
The Dartford Crossing sees more than 50 million vehicle crossings made each year. It is a vital part of our network which often exceeds its design capacity, leading to congestion.
Initial set-up costs for the scheme are estimated to be within a range of £68 million - £84million. We are currently undertaking a competitive procurement process to secure the best commercial deal and we will know more accurate costs once this is completed in autumn this year.
How will the scheme be carried out?
The introduction of ‘free-flow’ charging requires significant changes to the current arrangement while continuing to maintain the existing road user charging regime to manage demand at the crossing. The scheme involves:
- provision of open traffic lanes in both directions
- safe removal of plazas and barriers
- introduction of new traffic control measures
- continuing to ensure safety performance for road users, including the operational safety and integrity of the northbound restricted road tunnels
Installation of roadside technology and communication links
- automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) and beacon equipment to capture vehicle registrations and tags
- delivery of a service provider contract to administer the vehicle detection, charging and enforcement management services of the scheme
To date work has included:
- Progressing two new pieces of legislation to support a ‘free-flow’ charging arrangement at the crossing.
- Continuing to progress a live procurement process to secure the scheme service provider for the detection, charging and enforcement management services contract by autumn 2013.
- Preparing the engineering and road infrastructure design.
- Planning a comprehensive public information campaign before, at, and after launch to support the introduction of the scheme
It will not be possible to remove the existing layout immediately following the introduction of the new remote charging arrangements. All road works will be carefully planned to cause as little disruption as possible to the crossing operation and road users, and wherever possible will be carried out at night and at weekends, when traffic flows are lower.
As the scheme progresses we will provide more information on key features of how individuals will be able to pay the road user charge through the variety of methods mentioned above. There will also be updates on the timing and detail of engineering work as well as transition sequencing between the current and new free-flow charging arrangement.
We are planning carefully so that road works can be completed safely while keeping disruption for road users to a minimum. We will do as much work as possible overnight and when roads are less busy in order to keep lanes open at peak travel times.
What are the benefits?
Overall the introduction of a free-flow charging will improve traffic flow and reduce delays, as well as improving the road user experience by removing the need for drivers to stop and pay the road user charge at the barriers.
Once the new arrangements are in place the barriers will be removed and you will no longer need to stop at the booths to pay. You will be able to pay for your journey in advance or for a limited period after you use the crossing without incurring a penalty. You will also be able to set up an account so that payment is taken automatically.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0300 123 5000.
Find out more about the Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing.
|Contract award for detection, charging and enforcement management services||Autumn 2013|
|New legislation comes into force||Autumn 2013|
|Pre-construction work commences||Spring 2014|
|Vehicle detection on-road technology in place||Summer 2014|
|Account set-up and pre-payment services available||Summer 2014|
|Remote ‘free-flow’ charging commences||Autumn 2014|
|Post-construction work (removal of plazas and road infrastructure work) commences||Autumn 2014|
|Post-construction work complete||Summer 2015|
|Project closure||Spring 2015|