Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Dartford Crossing joins Dartford and Thurrock across the River Thames. It is thought to form part of London's orbital M25 motorway. Technically, however, the M25 is not a complete circle; it ends shortly before the crossing on each side of the river. The crossing itself is the A282 .
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 four-lane 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. Motorcycles cross at no charge, all other vehicles must pay a fee to use the Crossing; in effect, for most users, this is just a modern-day toll bridge. Tolls for both directions of travel are collected at toll plazas on the south side of the crossing.
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