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11 July 2013, 12:31
A new free-flow charging system aimed at easing congestion and improving traffic flow at the Dartford River Crossing will go ahead next year.
It follows two consultations which received overall support from the public for the legal measures to support the new way of charging at the bridge and tunnel.
Free-flow technology will allow motorists to use the Crossing without having to stop at barriers to hand over payment. Road users will be able to pay through a variety of methods including telephone, text message, online, and at retail outlets – giving motorists greater flexibility in how and when they pay the charge.
Roads Minister Stephen Hammond said: "The Dartford Crossing is vital to the local and national economy and introducing free-flow technology will cut congestion and improve journeys for the thousands of motorists and businesses who use the Crossing every day.
"We are now able to take forward the legislation to make sure charges will be able to be effectively enforced once free-flow charging at the Crossing is introduced next year."
Nigel Gray, Highways Agency senior project manager, said: "The Crossing continues to bring huge benefits to the economy, which is one of the reasons why there is such a demand.
"We are grateful to all those who responded to each consultation and we remain on track to introduce a free-flow charging arrangement in October 2014.”
Drivers will be encouraged to pay the charge before they use the Crossing. But changes made as a result of the consultations will mean that motorists will have longer – now up to midnight on the following day - to pay the standard charge.
The penalty charge for non-payment will be £70, with a reduced rate of £35 if paid within 14 days. If the penalty is not paid within 28 days it would increase to £105.