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Tolls up, but the traffic remains
3:30pm Wednesday 10th October 2012 in News
MOTORISTS were forced to pay an extra 50p to use the Dartford Crossing on Monday, but were still greeted with congestion as they approached the QEII Bridge.
Traffic jams and long delays, clogging up Lakeside and the surrounding areas, occur almost twice a day at the crossing.
But to add to motorists’ misery, on Sunday the Government increased the tolls, with a further rise of 50p set for autumn 2014. On Monday morning, angry motorists took to social networking sites to vent their frustration. One crossing user, Oliver Chappell, 37, who works in Romford and uses the crossing twice a day, set up a Twitter account called Dartford Crossing, with a link to a petition to scrap the tolls. It currently has just under 2,000 signatures.
He told the Gazette: “I think the rise is almost criminal. There is no viable alternative route for people to use if they can’t afford to pay.
“Years ago we were promised the toll would be scrapped when the bridge was paid for.
“From my experience of using the crossing, the only way to reduce congestion is to remove the tolls.”
Transport Secretary Stephen Hammond said: “The Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing is a vital piece of transport infrastructure, but upgrades need to be made.
“That’s why we are introducing free-flow charging by the autumn 2014 and currently analysing the options for a new crossing in the Lower Thames area.
“We have listened to what people said, which is why charges that were meant to be implemented towards the end of last year have been delayed until now. ”
But Thurrock Council leader John Kent said: “I think it is outrageous. We are told the increase is, in part, to pay for the introduction of free flow tolling, however, we were promised that would be in place in time for the Olympics.
“I am really concerned the Secretary of State says he is considering the options for building another crossing in Thurrock. “That is something I remain absolutely opposed to and will be contacting him urgently.”