Action group call for pause from minister as he considers smart motorways - and say he should not be 'hoodwinked' by National Highways' plans for Thurrock

By Neil Speight

15th Jan 2022 | Local News

THE Thurrock-based Thames Crossing Action Group (TCAG) has written to Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, following his recent decision to pause the rollout of new 'smart motorways' and have called on him to extend this pause to the Lower Thames Crossing.

A smart motorway is a section of a motorway that uses traffic management methods to increase capacity and reduce congestion in particularly busy areas. These methods include using the hard shoulder as a running lane and using variable speed limits to control the flow of traffic.

The agency running the Thames crossing project, National Highways, has already said the new road will 'be designed to Smart Motorway standards'.

That has prompted TCAG to argue the cause for a rethink. It says it 'can see no valid reason why the Lower Thames Crossing should be excluded from this pause. Potentially, the risks for this scheme will be even higher in a tunnel with no hard shoulder and few safety refuges'.

Action group chair Laura Blake says: "National Highways is effectively building a Smart Motorway by stealth with its construction of the Lower Thames Crossing. It is notable that when we raised concerns about it being a Smart Motorway National Highways suddenly stopped calling it a motorway. They now refer to it as an all-purpose trunk road to try and hide what they really want to build.

"We're calling on Grant Shapps to pause the Lower Thames Crossing. It's a Smart Motorway in everything but name. We trust that he won't be hoodwinked by National Highways' renaming of the scheme. Now that we have raised this oversight with him, we trust he will be move to reassure the public at the earliest opportunity."

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