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Dartford Crossing approach named Britain's slowest stretch of motorway

If you've ever sat in the gridlock on the M25, speeds of more than 30mph are likely to seem a distant dream.

But if you're travelling along the motorway's approach to the Dartford Crossing you have the added misfortune of driving along two of the slowest sections of road in England.

Traffic at the Dartford Crossing is subject to delays
Traffic at the Dartford Crossing is subject to delays

That is according to the latest road congestion statistics from the Department for Transport.

Statistics from June revealed the two slowest sections of motorway are on the northbound approach to the Dartford tunnels, where drivers are forced to crawl along at average speeds of 25mph.

The section nearest the Littlebrook interchange was officially named the slowest. It was here speedometers clocked in with average checks of just 24.6mph.

To add to travel woes, the next slowest section of motorway was identified as the approach to the tunnels between Princes Road and Littlebrook at Junctions 1b and 1a, which came in at just 25.1mph.

It will come as little surprise to many to learn 11 of the most sluggish sections of road network are found on the M25, with the London orbital frequently dubbed "Britain’s Largest Car Park" and "The Road to Hell".

Traffic is often at a standstill at the Dartford Tunnel when incidents occur Picture: Dan Elliott
Traffic is often at a standstill at the Dartford Tunnel when incidents occur Picture: Dan Elliott

But as Dan Hutson, head of motor insurance at comparethemarket.com, which compiled the research explains, sitting in traffic on the motorway isn't unusual.

He said: "Our research reveals it’s the norm in many areas to be crawling along at speeds 30mph or 40mph below the speed limit."

What is worrying, he added, is that data obtained reveals the speed of traffic at all times of the day. So drivers tackling the route during rush-hour are likely to see even lower average speeds.

Despite not officially being designated a motorway, the crossing is considered part of the M25 network, with the tunnels connecting Kent with Essex and the bridge providing southbound access back into the county.

The original Dartford Tunnel opened to traffic nearly 60 years ago and has since been used to make more than 1.5 billion trips.

Lockdown saw the number of journeys across the crossing halved.

But as restrictions are eased and people return to work, traffic jams are again proving a regular occurrence with residents near Littlebrook complaining of being trapped in their own homes at a situation already described as at "breaking point".

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson has previously spoken of how the Dartford Crossing had become “Britain’s worst stretch of motorway”.

The Tory has continued to canvass Parliament for improvements, after complaining that £62 million changes, which included removing the tolls in 2014, had not done enough to alleviate traffic congestion.

He has previously thrown his weight behind the Lower Thames Crossing proposals, to be built to the east of Gravesend, as a viable alternative to the Crossing and one which he says would help alleviate gridlocks.

A planning application is expected later this year with the consultation on the plans ending last week.

Read more: all the latest news from Dartford

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