Government delays road projects including Lower Thames Crossing

The government has delayed several road projects, including the £8bn Lower Thames Crossing.

The London infrastructure project was delayed by two years by transport secretary Mark Harper, who also slowed HS2’s phase 2a and the building of the high-speed rail project’s Euston station by two years. The decision will mean annual government spending on the projects is reduced, as it is spread over a longer period of time.

Although the government “remain[s] committed” to the Lower Thames Crossing, Harper said the process to get development consent was an opportunity to “consult further to ensure there is an effective and deliverable plan”.

He added: “In order to allow time for this process, and given wider pressures on [the government’s] Road Investment Strategy (RIS), we will look to rephase construction by two years.”

The Lower Thames Crossing is a proposed road crossing the Thames estuary, east of the existing Dartford Crossing. In January, the UK’s largest contractor, Balfour Beatty, won a £1.2bn package to build roads as part of the megaproject.

The Lower Thames Crossing is still awaiting development consent, with National Highways conceding earlier this year that it needs new technology to achieve its project climate goals.

The transport secretary also signalled delays to major road projects including the £320m A27 Arundel bypass in the South East, which a joint venture of Bam Nuttall, Aecom and Mace scooped in April 2021.

Owing to a “range of challenges”, including environmental considerations and design changes, the project is one of two deferred to the RIS3 period, which runs from 2025 until 2030.

The other project pushed back is the £320m construction of a bypass on the A5036/Princess Way in Liverpool. The A5036 is the main route connecting the port of Liverpool to the motorway network and currently “suffers from severe congestion”, according to National Highways.

Construction News approached Bam Nuttall, Mace and Balfour Beatty for comment.

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