LAST week’s news that the Government would be pressing ahead with the Lower Thames Crossing at Option C Variant 3 has exposed the clear divide in opinion that exists within the county.
While Thurrock councillors and MPs have been highly vocal in their opposition to the plan, which will take vehicles through Ockendon, Orsett and Tilbury, elsewhere in Essex the news was welcomed.
Essex County Council have released a statement saying that the decision was “a big step forward to ending costly traffic queues.”
The route is said to offer the opportunity to create more than 6,000 jobs and boost the economy by more than £8bn.
As part of the plans it was also announced there would be an investment of £66m to widen the A13 Stanford-le-Hope bypass from two to three lanes.
Andrew Cook, Director for Highways and Transportation at Essex County Council, said: “Today’s announcement will transform Essex’s transport infrastructure.
“A new Thames Crossing is vital to help continue to promote economic growth within the county and keep Essex moving.
“We also are pleased to hear the additional announcement on widening of the A13 to support increased economic activity in south Essex and the pressure this brings about on key infrastructure in the area.
“This crossing is a big step forward to ending costly traffic queues that often form around the crossing and can tailback onto our county’s roads.
“We have made our position in support of Option C clear throughout, but it is important that we now work together with partners to mitigate the impact of these works.
“Planning and development of improvements to other roads and junctions affected by the new crossing including the A12, A127 and M11 will also need to be looked at.
“We look forward to continuing our very constructive working relationship with Highways England, developing this infrastructure over the coming years to help create a joined up transport network across the south east.”
Other business groups have also welcomed the announcement, including the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and Thurrock Business Board, who said they were cautiously optimistic about the announcement.
Thurrock Business Board Chair, Marc Myers, said: “Although I’m very pleased to hear the decision – I am cautious that the timings and schedules which have been self-imposed by Highways England are not being met and I hope it bears no link to how Highways England intend to approach the delivery of this project going forward.”