If you are travelling on business and using the Dartford Crossing, then you need to know that from October, the way you pay the crossing charge is changing, says the Highway Agency.
It’s all part of a major road improvement programme to reduce congestion, at the Dartford Crossing, which crosses the River Thames and links Essex and Kent.
A new payment system called Dart Charge is being introduced, which Fleet News reported on recently.
This means that drivers will no longer stop to pay at the barriers, but instead they will be able to pay in advance or by midnight the day after their journey.
A Dart Charge account offers a discount of up to a third and means drivers don’t need to remember to pay, as it can be automatically topped up. Payment can also be made over the phone, online, at selected retail outlets, or by post.
Highways Agency project manager Nigel Gray said: “These changes will improve traffic flow, reduce journey times, and bring about significant benefits to motorists, both locally and from much further afield.
“It’s one of the country’s most congested parts of the road network, and we’re serious about tackling the problem.”
As motorists make a crossing, number plate reading cameras, lasers and DART tag readers will identify their vehicle to see how much they need to pay.
The system then takes the money from their account or waits to receive payment from them.
If they do not pay in time, they will receive a penalty charge notice. This will apply to both UK and foreign vehicles.
It will still be free to use the Dartford Crossing between 10pm and 6am, and discounts for local residents will remain.
Once the new charging arrangements are in place from October, then the major construction works will begin, to replace the current 27 lanes and payment booths with a much simpler road layout with four lanes in each direction. New signs will also be installed.
On the southbound route over the QEII Bridge, the improvements will happen quickly.
It will take a little longer on the northbound route as a new safety system that stops over height vehicles from entering the tunnels is needed.
All road works are due to be completed in spring 2015 and are being planned to minimise disruption for road users. These are significant road works, said the Highways Agency, and motorists should expect some impact on their journey as a result.
The changes at the Dartford Crossing are part of the Government’s commitment to invest in infrastructure projects to boost economic growth. Around £1.7 billion is being spent on roads across the South East by 2021.