|Location Map ( geo)|
|To:||Fleet Downs, near Dartford (TQ556721)|
|Distance:||5.2 miles (8.4 km)|
|Meets:||M25, A13, A1306, A206, A225, A296, A2, M25|
|Route outline (key)|
We all tend to think of this as the M25. Actually, around five miles of the London Orbital is the A282, this being the important link between Kent and Essex, crossing the River Thames. The toll booths were on the south side of the river for both directions, and the road has eight lanes to the south of these.
Northbound, one has the choice of battling with the lorries through the original left tunnel, or trying hard to limit one's speed to 50 mph through the more recent right-hand tunnel. Of course heading south, one has no such decision to make - all four lanes run parallel across the fairly steep The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. From here, you will see just how industrialised the whole area is. North of the river, the road reverts to six lanes.
Because it has always been known as the Dartford Tunnel, residents of Thurrock had hoped that the bridge would diplomatically adopt the name of their town. This didn't happen, and they have had to settle with lending their name to a huge shopping centre instead!
The new A282 (as opposed to the old one in Sussex), also known as Canterbury Way, opened in 1963 when the first Dartford Tunnel opened. In the very early days, there were special Routemaster buses that took bicycles over the water but that wasn't a success and so today's minibus system was introduced. With the opening of the second bore in 1980, the road was fully D2 but as the M25 was near completion, it became a major bottleneck. The Dartford Tunnels were supplemented with the Dartford Bridge which opened on 30 October 1991, five years and a day after the M25 was fully opened.
Motorway Services Online