Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price claims that Friday’s travel chaos across the region caused by a bomb threat at the Dartford Crossing proves that the Government needs to rethink its proposals for a new Lower Thames crossing.
The incident led to drivers being caught in nine-mile-long tailbacks after both the QE2 Bridge and Dartford Tunnels were closed for almost seven hours during rush-hour traffic on Friday evening, while traffic was also stopped from using the A20 at Dover.
A 27-year-old man arrested in connection with the incident has been detained under the Mental Health Act. The suspect, from Bournemouth in Dorset, is alleged to have made bomb threats.
He was arrested on Saturday and has now been taken to a secure unit under the care of the Health Authority, Kent Police said.
The incident began after Kent Police were called at 4.03pm to a report of a male pedestrian behaving unusually. He had alighted from a coach which was Dover-bound and run to a rough area nearby, police said.
Security personnel at a nearby distribution depot detained the man and officers arrested him at 4.15pm before he was taken to a police station where he made threats as to a suspicious device on board the coach.
The vehicle, which had just gone through the toll booths, was evacuated along with the immediate surrounding area, which was extremely busy at the time.
Bomb disposal experts attended the scene and a robotic device was deployed to examine the device more closely.
Police said the detained man made further threats that there was an explosive device on another coach and officers then stopped a coach on the A20 at Dover at 6pm.
It was evacuated and the road was closed before being reopened at around 10.45pm after no threat was found. The Dartford Crossing was reopened at around 11.45pm.
After the incident Ms Doyle-Price said: “Friday’s chaos proves there are not enough crossings east of Tower Bridge. As traffic is diverted to Blackwall, queues were as far back as Rainham. When the Dartford Crossing closes vast areas become car parks causing misery for motorists.
“But it also illustrates that the options under consideration are the wrong ones. They would simply add to congestion on the M25 and the A13. The Government needs to think again. A new crossing at Canvey offers the opportunity to link the M2 and the M11 and establish a new outer ring road. That would bring real resilience to the road network. Dependency on too few crossings brings real risk which is costing our economy badly.”