Published: 00:01, 09 October 2017
Oversized and hazardous goods lorries should be banned from using the Dartford Crossing in a bid to reduce traffic jams, a prominent haulage company boss has claimed.
Instead, these vehicles should be sent the other way around the M25 to get to their destinations, according to Andrew Baxter, managing director of Europa Worldwide.
He claims the measure would remove two and a half hours of congestion from the route each day by ending convoys which escort the vehicles through the tunnel while other traffic is forced to wait.
About 100 convoys go through the crossing each day, equivalent to at least one of the tunnels being closed every 15 minutes.
However, this accounts for less than 1% of total traffic which uses the tunnel.
Mr Baxter has launched the Stop the Convoys campaign in response to what he sees as the “unjust” delays to 99% of vehicles while oversized or hazardous goods lorries are escorted from Kent to Essex.
He said: “My suggestion is simple: stop the convoys and divert these oversized and hazardous vehicles the other way around the M25.
“I believe the environmental and economic damage of creating traffic jams on the M25 are much worse than sending a small number of vehicles the other way around the M25.
“As a business owner, I think this makes business sense. Sitting still in traffic is frustrating for everyone.
“It damages the environment. It slows business down and costs businesses money. It means people are late for important appointments every single day of the year.”
Highways England has stated that traffic stops for between 90 seconds to 2.5 minutes every time there is a convoy, equating roughly to at least one tunnel being closed for more than 2.5 hours per day.
Mr Baxter, whose firm is based in a giant logistics hub less than a mile from the Dartford Crossing, has also called for an official investigation to be launched into the height restriction on the left hand tunnel.
Vehicles taller than 4.8m cannot use the route, even though standard double deck trailers measure at 4.85m.
Traffic also has to be stopped if a lorry incorrectly queues for the left tunnel to allow it to be escorted to the other side.
Join the campaign
He said: “I would like to know if it is possible to adjust or replace the fans and other equipment in the left tunnel with less space-intensive units.
“This has never been investigated, which I think is shocking.”
He welcomed plans to ease congestion with a new Lower Thames Crossing, which will be built to the east of Gravesend, but warned it will not be ready for at least eight years.
He said: “I’m encouraging people to sign our petition to Stop The Convoys because I’m confident that if we do, we can more or less remove the congestion at the Dartford Tunnel.”
Find out more on the campaign at www.facebook.com/stoptheconvoys
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