Crossing the Thames
|by Susan Yates|
Not surprisingly then vehicle usage of the crossing had risen to 30,000 by 1980 and a staggering 65,000 by 1985. It was because of this increase in usage that a second tunnel was opened on 16th May 1980 twenty-one metres downstream from the first one and eventually on 2nd August 1988 the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge was started. The first components required were the two caissons. (A caisson is a watertight retaining structure used to work on the foundations of a bridge.) The two support towers would be built on these. They weighed 110,000 tons and were built in Holland and towed 150 miles cross the North Sea to Dartford. The cables used to support the bridge weighed 1,500 tons and were woven by British Ropes Doncaster. At 16.5cms they were the largest made at that time and designed to carry the heaviest traffic loading in the World. The bridge 2,869 metres long and clears the river by 60 metres. The bridge was opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday 30th October 1991.
By 1992 the toll for a car was 80p increasing to £1 on 1st September 1996 and by November 2008 the toll for a car was £1.50. Now in 2017 it is £2.50 unless you have a Dart Tag and of course if you live in the immediate vicinity of the crossing you get a discount that works out after a £10 deposit at 20p per car per crossing. With the increase in usage comes the need for another crossing which if current proposals go through will see Tilbury finally getting a crossing.
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