A new £4.4bn tunnel beneath the River Thames to the east of London will unlock billions of pounds of economic value and create thousands of jobs, according to Highways England.
The government has confirmed the new crossing will be located east of Gravesend and Tilbury to north of the river, linking with Shore to the south.
It will tie in to the road network via a new road north of the river, which will join the M25 between junctions 29 and 30, and to the south a new road will join the A2.
The government also promised to look at options to cut “rat-running” through Dartford and Thurrock.
Currently the only way to cross the Thames by road east of London is via the Dartford Tunnel and Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.
The new 70mph, 13-mile route and crossing will improve capacity for vehicles crossing the Thames by 70%, the government estimates, and it is expected to carry 4.5m heavy goods vehicles in its first year.
Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “This route will greatly improve journeys as well as unlocking more than £8bn of economic benefits and create some 6,000 jobs.
“The decision for a new crossing east of Gravesend and Tilbury is underpinned by years of studies, assessments and careful consideration of the record breaking response to our 2016 consultation.”
The new route was favoured by the majority of almost 47,000 people who responded to the consultation on the location of a new lower Thames crossing.
He said there would be further consultation going forward to shape the detail of the area.
Around 55m journeys are made each year on the Dartford Crossing – which is 6m more than it was designed for.
Highways England said the crossing suffers from closures due to incidents almost daily.
Tim Waggott, Port of Dover chief executive, said: “The Lower Thames Crossing is an essential ingredient of the strategic infrastructure mix required to deliver national economic prosperity.
“The port fully supports today’s announcement by the government and warmly welcomes its commitment to keep the nation’s traffic and trade moving.”
Christian Brodie, chairman of South East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is excellent news for Kent and Essex and will have a significant economic impact.
“The investments announced will strengthen the resilience of our UK and European connections – imperative as we now move towards Brexit.”
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