The Dartford crossing from Essex to Kent is one of the most congested toll roads in the UK. As a result there are plans to restructure how the toll is paid, which may result in the Essex to Kent fee being dropped. The plans will mean that the Kent to Essex toll will remain, although it may be charged in a different way.
This is certainly good news for business on the Essex and Kent borders that need to travel between the two counties on a regular basis. The toll road quickly increases the cost of travel for these businesses, and often potential clients are put off by the toll.
Do not expect to see any changed soon though, as it is estimated that the department of transport requires at least 18 months to study the situation further before making any proposals to change the system.
Lord Hanningfield has spoken out in favour of dropping the charges:
“We are pleased that the Government have acknowledged that scrapping the tolls is a possibility. When we built the tunnels over 3 years ago there was a proviso that the crossing should be self funding. So we have to ask ourselves why 30 years and millions of pounds of additional toll contributions later, we are still paying the price.”
One other option is to retain the toll on both side of the crossing but to redesign the road and toll layouts to speed up the passage of traffic. Maybe a system similar to the London congestion charge could be used, whereby people purchase a day ticket in advance of travel and then their number plate is electronically checked as they pass through. Whatever happens must be good news for the road users and if the toll is scrapped it will also benefit local businesses in Essex and Kent.