Kent

MP warns 'someone will die' at Dartford Crossing

Dartford crossing queues Image copyright NPAS Redhill
Image caption The National Police Air Service helicopter posted shots of the queues

An MP has warned someone will die unless urgent improvements are made to the Dartford Crossing.

Gareth Johnson, Conservative MP for Dartford, called for contingency plans to stop lengthy traffic jams after a power cut left thousands of people stuck for four hours on Sunday.

The northbound tunnels were closed, stopping traffic travelling from Kent into Essex.

Highways England said the closure was necessary for safety reasons.

Mr Johnson said he feared a vulnerable person would die while trapped in a traffic jam at Dartford.

"Every few days people are getting stuck on the motorway, or on Dartford's surrounding roads, due to a major incident at the crossing," he said.

Among people tweeting during the delays was Jenny Smith, who appealed for baby formula for her sister, who was stuck with her two-month-old baby.

Charlotte Kirby tweeted that her 2.5 hour journey from Gatwick to Norwich turned into a five-hour nightmare.

The QE2 Bridge remained open throughout the power cut.

Image copyright Simon Leatherdale / Geograph
Image caption Both northbound tunnels were closed but the QE2 bridge remained open

Dartford Borough Council leader Jeremy Kite said Dartford suffered long delays on a daily basis.

"It's not the way a civilised economy should run a transport system to have people dangerously trapped in cars for hours on end," he said.

"The tunnel creates hundreds of millions of pounds worth of revenue for the Treasury.

"We are asking for a small amount of that to be spend improving the junctions and putting a police presence there to make sure that traffic can keep flowing."

Highways England said Sunday's closure was caused by a technical issue which affected the system which detects and controls oversized vehicles and dangerous loads on approach to the tunnels.

"We recognise the inconvenience suffered by drivers when there is an incident at the Dartford Crossing," a spokesman said.

"That's why we are taking forward plans for a new Lower Thames Crossing."

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