Just a personal view, but in my eyes the Dartford Crossing is close on being a national disgrace.
I have high regard for the Highways Agency and those involved in trying to fit a quart of traffic into a pint pot-sezed road network, but this is not the finest advert for the organisation’s work.
This section of the M25 – technically the A282 on this part of the London orbital – is one of the most heavily used parts of web of strategic roads. A staggering 51 million vehicles streamed through the tunnels or over the QEII Bridge last year.
The jams are also near record breaking. Analysis by Inrix shows that the northbound approach is the third worst traffic bottleneck in the UK. Southbound is not much better.
The absurdity is that the congestion is to a great measure self-inflicted. Not by the drivers who have no viable option other than to use the crossings but by those who are trying to get money out of them.
In the 21st Century is stopping traffic with physical barriers and demanding they throw cash at an attendant or a machine the best way of keeping the nation moving or collecting revenue? No it is not. To be fair, the DfT is working on a free-flow alternative to the current sets of booths to be in place by Autumn 2014, but why has it taken so long? And while the work goes on, so does the frustration for motorists, including myself, when I had to endure queues on both Saturday and Sunday.
In so many ways, the Dartford Crossing gives tolling a bad name, not least because money is still being collected from users even though the charges were supposed to be scrapped years ago when the building of the crossing had been paid for, and also because the service you get using the crossing is abysmal.
The RAC Foundation can see good reasons why tolls or road pricing should be implemented to replace the current system of motoring taxation. To end up with something like the Dartford Crossing is not one of them.