The Dartford River Crossing is designated Critical National Infrastructure (CNI), and crossing operators Connect Plus Services (CPS) are under pressure to keep traffic flowing through this ageing asset.
A comprehensive and continual maintenance and renewal/ upgrade programme is necessary to keep the tunnels functioning, requiring night-time closures throughout the year. In the event of a full northbound closure, the prescribed diversion route via the restricted Blackwall Tunnel also impacts these drivers, adding at least an hour to every journey.
In early June, complex electrical works were required to upgrade the back-up power system for the tunnel safety control systems. This required a full power down, rendering both of the tunnels out-of-action overnight. While planning the closures, CPS devised a way to keep traffic flowing in both directions.
A contraflow arrangement across the bridge, with a lane running in each direction, would keep all traffic flowing. CPS worked with Highways England and its traffic officer service to develop the original closure devised for the 2012 Olympics emergency response plan, but never used.
CPS’s onsite incident support units, maintenance and recovery teams removed VRS and remained in strategic lay-up points. Deployment took around 2 hours, with traffic management lifted in less than 90 minutes.
This first-ever deployment of a contraflow across the QEII Bridge had a positive result. Traffic flow remained steady, with minimal delay, in both directions.
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