The Echo’s ‘Canvey/Kent Bridge’ Is Actually A Tunnel

BOB SPINK, our local MP, is reported by the Echo as being against the building of a bridge between Canvey and Kent; but the ‘bridge’ is actually a tunnel.

The Metrotidal proposal warrants serious consideration by all Canvey residents since it also includes the parallel establishment of a new railway station on the island — and early indications from the straw-poll (at the end of this article) suggest that the plans would significantly relieve the rush-hour congestion on Canvey Way.

There is a lot to digest here; but, if you reside on the island, and drive a car (or would take to the train instead if a new Medway line was built) please use the straw-poll below so we can obtain a good idea of how the island’s traffic might be effected.

Thank you…

The roadtraffic-technology.com website has this on the proposal:-

The Medway-Canvey Island crossing is the newest scheme proposed to provide a road and rail link that will integrate the Thames gateway transportation infrastructure. The entire scheme will consist of a road tunnel linking Canvey Island in Essex with the Medway towns across the Thames Estuary on the South bank (Hoo Peninsular in Kent). In addition, there would be a rail link that would link the Thames Gateway network with the Crossrail proposal for London.

The scheme would also incorporate a surge tidal barrier, reclaimed land off Canvey Island to create a lagoon and a tidal power plant. The scheme is being championed by a consortium headed by Metrotidal Ltd, which has already submitted preliminary plans to Department for Transport and the Environment Agency for the scheme.

Realisation of the project may not be until around 2012–13.

There is some opposition among local politicians on Canvey Island, despite the expected benefits of the scheme to the environment and the local economy as well as the integration of the transport system and congestion relief.

Funding would likely come from government money, road tolls and rail operator funds.

Studies conducted by Metrotidal Ltd have indicated that the new 7.6km crossing would ease congestion on the M25 at the Dartford Crossing. Other indications are that this scheme would support growth of the housing market in the Thames Gateway area.

Mark Willingale, director of Metrotidal, commented: ‘The proposal integrates three elements: a road and rail tunnel link under the Thames, new flood defences to cope with rising sea levels expected within the next century and a tidal power plant. The new road and rail services will serve the heavy freight traffic likely to be generated by the new deep-sea port planned at Shellhaven in Thurrock. We propose to fund the tunnel by combining the emerging Government flood defence budget with wholly private-sector funding for the tunnel and tidal power plant.

‘A new road connection from the A130 and A13 in Essex to the A289 and M2 in Kent will create a new road orbital system for the whole Thames Gateway region. Similarly, a new twin-track rail connection from Wickford and Pitsea in Essex to Rochester and Ebbsfleet in Kent will create a new rail orbital for the Thames Gateway that links the eastern limbs of Cross Rail and will give Canvey Island its own railway station for the first time and a third road access off the island.

‘The [Environment Agency] people are working on flood problems, the DfT is looking at [the] Dartford [tunnel], we’re saying why not put these together.’

Parties interested in the scheme include Kent County Council, Essex County Council, Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership, Department for Transport (who have appointed Parsons Brinckerhoff to look into proposals for a new crossing), the Environment Agency and the UK Government. Essex and Kent councils have recently commissioned a £100,000 study into a new lower Thames crossing.

Essex County Council leader, Lord Hanningfield, commented: ‘I have a feeling this is not the sort of project which Essex and Kent county councils will be looking at for a lower Thames crossing… A tunnel from Canvey to the Medway towns would be extremely expensive and I think it would not be acceptable, although our study will be looking at all the available options.’

Metrotidal Ltd believes that the capital cost of the plan will be £2–4bn, with the tunnelling part of the project thought to cost around £1bn. The tunnel is expected to be formed from concrete tubes immersed in the bed of the estuary along a trench dredged across the Thames.

There would also be an area of reclaimed land off Canvey Island and a lagoon on the Kent side of the river with a flood barrier constructed between the two; this would require four concrete caissons to form a ‘throttle’ for the flood barrier to reduce tidal range upstream.

The proposed tidal power plant could potentially provide enough power for a new eco town or provide power for an electric rail service through the rail tunnel. The consortium developing the project includes architects Bluebase, Capita Symonds and EC Harris, as well as Metrotidal Ltd.

The road and rail tunnels across the estuary would be constructed from concrete tubes laid in the bed of the river. Capita Symonds already has experience of this type of work, having gained experience from the Oresund crossing between Denmark and Sweden.

The 150m-long tunnel elements would be constructed on a site/staging area/dry dock in southwest Canvey Island that would be reclaimed from the sea in an initial £110m development. The idea was that this could, when the project was completed, be used to build the new Canvey Island railway station, thereby giving a direct link to London via the Thames Gateway rail network.

Willingale commented: ‘We would propose to use the reclaimed land which adjoins the south west Canvey regeneration area, initially as a dry dock where the concrete tubes for the tunnel would be constructed… After this work has been carried out the land could revert to being part of the estuary or it could be used for development. It would seem a great shame if having reclaimed the land for the dry dock it was then left to become sea again.

‘Obviously, it could be an ideal place for a new station to serve Canvey on the rail link and for commercial development… We have put a value of £110m on this site for reclamation but I would think that could be low compared to the true value when the whole scheme comes into operation.

It seems that Bob has already made-up his mind on the matter; but where do you stand? Would a tunnel from Canvey to Kent ease your daily commute?

Would you abandon your car for some journeys and use the new railway instead?

Please use the straw-poll below so we can all obtain a good idea of the possible effects on local traffic — and don’t forget to leave your thoughts and comments

… (Echo, 19/11/2009) – Third access road on Canvey should be provided by local authority says Castle Point MP

… (Echo, 22/01/2010) – £2.5m to be spent on Castle Point leisure facilities

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7 Responses

  1. The headline comes as no surprise. Since when did Spink know what he was talking about?

    I hope all readers take part in this poll because it seems that no one has tried to assess just how many residents would use it. (Least of all Spink of course).

  2. This is interesting isn’t it?

    I know it is early days for your poll but the more I follow its results and the more I consider the Metrotidal’s proposal the more sense it makes……….

    • As you say, Cynical: it is early days; but I, too, am surprised by its early results regarding ‘every working day’ use.

      The ‘Bob Spink’ poll took about a fortnight to register over 100 votes (when this blog was only achieving around 100 hits a week) so we should see it settle down soon and give a fairly good representative idea of the Canvey Way rush hour relief that a tunnel to Kent might provide.

      There is quite a lot here to digest from the job creation aspects of toll-tunnel booths and a new railway station; but it will also present significant benefits to the island’s public transport and road haulage businesses. (Not to mention static businesses in a redeveloped town centre; an improved seafront; and substantially increased visitor numbers for the new nature reserve, which opens next year).

      Spink’s knee-jerk reaction has been to position himself against the proposal and align himself with those seeking a road that will only move the rush-hour congestion further down the A13 and do nothing to relieve the Dartford Tunnel bottleneck (or the traffic stand-still experienced around Lakeside this time of the year).

      Perhaps he will argue that a tunnel does nothing to aid emergency evacuation from the island in the event its sea-walls are breached – because the tunnel will flood.

      Personally, I think too much attention and scare mongering is given to the flooding scenario – and too little acknowledgement of the prowess and ingenuity of our British engineers.

      (Putting a suspension bridge between Canvey and Kent would have taxed that ingenuity to its limit though: currently, the longest in the world is the Akashi-Kaikyō Bridge at just under 2km).

  3. I see Spink is using the Echo to promote his scaremongering again then. And he is still ranting about the Council. Apparently they should be providing a third access road for Canvey! I can see myself and other council tax payers just loving that! I wish he would just shut-up and take a look at your poll which despite fluctuations is still showing some 30% of residents would use it every working day! That extrapolates into a 30% reduction of traffic using Canvey Way in the rush hour and one hell of an improvement for commuters heading to London. I guess Spink doesn’t want to mention this because it would cut down his own travel time to Westminster and he might have to give-up his flat!

    And as for Howard’s remarks, if you can call them that, what is he talking about – and where are his facts? I’ve lived in Essex for over 50 years and can’t say I’ve noticed any downside to the Dartford tunnel’s construction in the area. The only reason it is such a bottleneck nowadays, Mr Howard is because of immigration and natural population growth – both in Thurrock and in the country – that has led to a huge rise in traffic on the roads and needing access across the river. And that would be reduced significantly by the Metrotidal proposals.

    An what is there to suggest that the Canvey Kent Tunnel will receive anything like the haulage traffic from Chelmsford that the Dartford tunnel gets? It is much more likely that that traffic will continue to use the Dartford Toll because Canvey will be considerably more expensive (as was Dartford when it was first built).

    Spin and Howard should be thinking about the proposals in detail and considering things like charges. For example having some kind of season ticket, at a reduced price, made available for residents who use it every working day..

    These politicians are stuck in a time-warp where any change, no matter how logical, is to be avoided at all costs. But we cannot avoid change or go back to the good-old days of the 60’s. We have to deal with the problems we face now and which we are all responsible for. Hiding our heads in the sand and ignoring the problems faced by the next generation for jobs, housing and the ability to travel easily in order to find both is just living in cloud cuckoo land.

    • Judging by the public comments made on the Echo’s past coverage of this topic, both Spink and Howard are way out-of-touch with public opinion. The overwhelming number of Castle Point, and Canvey Island residents, appear to be in favour of the proposal.

      On its Press page, the Metrotidal website provides links to most of the media coverage on the issue – and Echo editorial is in favour of the plan.

      Also, judging by the number of ‘thumbs-ups’ given to comments here, it appears that majority consensus continues among residents.

      For readers following this, the following ‘statistics’ may help you judge visitor feed-back:-

      • Only about 10% of visitors to this blog leave a comment or indicate their agreement/disagreement with comments left.
      • Only around 25% of visitors take part in its polls. (I would like to think that statistic is because readers visit this blog four times a week and can only vote once – but I do not think that is true).
      • This is difficult to judge from the numbers I get; but I have a gut feeling that most regular readers visit this blog once a week or once a fortnight.

      It is my intention to keep this post visible, and continue polling, until around 16 December. That should give all readers a chance to participate in the poll.

  4. Oh and I forgot to mention – the Echo now agrees with you – the Metrotidal proposal is for a tunnel………

    • They should know better than to quote from a Spink release without checking it first, Cynical. Particularly since it was they that broke this story back in Feb ’08 and have correctly stated it was a tunnel in all other follow-up articles since.

      Obviously Spink is not the avid Echo reader that I took him to be – except for his own releases

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