UK spends €900m on river crossing – before construction starts

By Mike Hayes04 May 2023

Taxpayers in the UK have reportedly footed a bill of more than €910 million for the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC), the largest road-building project in the UK – before any construction work has started.

Computer generated image of Lower Thames Crossing A13 junction. Image: Balfour Beatty

According to a report in The Times, planning documents for the project – which involves creating a 23km-long motorway to relieve congestion and improve journeys to important ports – now run to 63,000 pages.

When completed, the motorway will run between Kent and Essex, with vehicles running beneath the Thames river, through the longest road tunnel in the country.

The project was initially forecast to cost approximately €6 billion, but latest estimates put the cost at over €10.2 billion, according to the government.

Second major project paused

With construction due to begin in 2024, it has now been delayed by two years, due to rising costs caused by inflation. The UK government appears to be taking a similar ‘wait and see’ stance with the LTC project as it did with elements of its HS2 high-speed rail project.

Infrastructure experts, however, have questioned the merits of the delay and called on the government to improve the planning process for major projects.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Excessive bureaucracy and constant delays have become depressingly familiar features of public sector infrastructure projects.

“The government must make it easier to get projects started quickly and delivered promptly by easing the regulations that guarantee taxpayers disastrous value for their money.”

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Mike Hayes Editor, Construction Europe Tel: +44 (0)1892 786 231 E-mail:
Catrin Jones Deputy Editor, Editorial, UK – Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 791 2298 133 E-mail:
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