London 2012: Call to lift Dartford tolls

image captionLong traffic queues frequently build up at the Dartford Crossing tollbooths

Councils in Kent and Essex are calling for tolls at the Dartford Crossing to be lifted for the London 2012 Olympics.

The leaders of Dartford and Thurrock councils said the River Thames crossing would be among roads facing extra traffic during the Games.

"It seems perfectly sensible to lift the barriers for those few weeks and see what that does to the congestion," said Thurrock council leader John Kent.

Roads minister Mike Penning said most spectators would use public transport.

Mr Kent said he had written to Mr Penning asking for the tolls to be lifted during the Olympics to cut traffic delays.

'Boost to tourism'

"I was amazed when he wrote back and said he didn't believe there would be a significant increase in traffic.

"We are all hoping the Olympics are a huge success and a major boost to tourism but people aren't just going to stay in Stratford."

Dartford Borough Council leader Jeremy Kite said residents not going to the Games would have to get on with their normal lives.

"Don't forget that half the Blackwall Tunnel will be cut off as part of the VIP Olympic lane which is going to push traffic out on to other roads," he said.

"The minister is saying that park and ride will take a lot of pressure off but the sites are in Thurrock and Dartford and people will have to use the roads to get to them."

Mr Penning said the operation of the Dartford Crossing was being considered as part of the government's transport planning during the Games.

"The vast majority of spectators will arrive on public transport, we do not expect significant increases in the volume of traffic at the crossing," he said.

"In addition, park and ride sites have been set up ahead of the Games on either side of the crossing to help keep traffic needing to use the crossing to a minimum."

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