The Dartford Crossing
across the River Thames
. It forms part of London
's orbital M25 motorway
Since its opening in 1963, the crossing has been expanded several times to cope with increased traffic:
- First tunnel opened 1963
- Second tunnel opened 1980
- M25 completed 1986
- Queen Elizabeth II Bridge opened 1991
Prior to the opening of the bridge in 1991, the crossing was usually referred to as the "Dartford Tunnel". Southbound traffic uses the Queen Elizabeth II bridge, a single-carriageway cable-stayed bridge
(designed by Sir William Halcrow & Partners Ltd), while northbound traffic uses a pair of two-lane tunnels. Before the bridge was built, the two tunnels carried traffic in opposite directions (and still do on occasions when the bridge has to be closed due to high winds).
Dartford is the name of the town nearest the crossing on the south bank of the river. The area around the north bank of the crossing is called West Thurrock.
There is no footpath or cycle path either in the tunnels or on the bridge. Cyclists and pedestrians are provided with a free shuttle service operated by the crossing's staff. All other vehicles must pay a fee to use the Crossing; in effect, this is just a modern day toll bridge.