The 19 most random reasons the Dartford Crossing has closed

For motorists who commute over the Dartford Crossing each day, experiencing delays or closures can make the drive seem unbearable. The crossing sees 50 million cars pass over it each year and with that, many incidents are bound to happen. However, for those wondering why the bridge closes as frequently as it does, you may be surprised by some of the reasons listed.

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Information received through a Freedom of Information request in an investigation by Essex Live[1], has revealed the most random descriptions for closures in the tunnels, the bridge, and the roads leading up to the crossing on each side.

Find out the list of unexpected reasons the crossing has shut below:

The most random incidents that closed the Dartford Crossing

The crossing consists of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge and the east and west tunnels

1: Icicle removal

The tunnel was closed for icicles to be removed in March 2018, following a spell of adverse weather. The cold air allowed icicles to form at the tunnel entrance which could become dangerous if they fell onto a passing vehicle. The east tunnel was closed on March 1 for 49 minutes shortly after midday and again for 19 minutes at around 7pm.

2: High winds

The Dartford Crossing has been affected by high winds several times over the past five years, with the first closure taking place in October 2013.

A lane was closed at Junction 31 to the bridge and the east tunnel for 12 hours from midnight due to the weather forecast. The bridge was then closed again in January 2014 from 2pm to 8pm, followed by a 20-hour closure between February 14 and February 15. The bridge was closed twice in 2015 as well.

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3: Potholes

The crossing has been shut due to potholes in the tunnels or bridge several times, closing as long as 45 minutes in severe cases.

Lane closures took place for emergency works to take place on various parts of the crossing.

4: Vehicle fires

A lorry caught fire near the Dartford Crossing, September 14, 2017A lorry caught fire near the Dartford Crossing, September 14, 2017

There have been around 20 vehicles catching fire that have caused delays for fellow motorists. In one case, November 2013, a lane was closed for 17 hours when a vehicle caught fire around junction 1B. The following year, a broken down artic lorry’s trailer caught fire and two lanes were closed for three hours.

Then in 2017, the carriageway was closed for three hours after a HGV reignited on the back of its recovery truck.

5: Spillages

It may seem that spillages occur often when travelling via the crossing, but sometimes they are more surprising than oil leaking onto the road. On September 2, 2013, nitric acid spilled across the lane and it was shut for nearly two hours.

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6: Old bus stop…

One reason for a lane closure affecting traffic on the crossing is tough to decipher. On November 19, 2013, a lane was closed for 10 minutes due to the A282 Old Bus Stop.

7: Clutch problems

The crossing is one of the busiest in the country

Most motorists get annoyed when their car experiences problems or you’re too fast on the clutch and stall the vehicle in the most awkward of moments.

However, imagine having clutch problems at one of the busiest routes in the South East, which one HGV driver experienced when the lorry broke down and wouldn’t start due to “clutch problems”. It affected two lanes for 20 minutes.

8: Suicide attempts

Sadly, individuals take to the bridge to attempt suicide and the bridge is closed for a short period of time as police access them.

9: Punctures

In February, the east tunnel had to be closed to recover a heavy vehicle which had two punctures, and the delays nearly last an hour.

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10: Tall lorries attempting the tunnel

Surprisingly drivers attempt to enter the tunnel, even if their vehicles are too tall to fit. Lorries too high cause lane closures as they are diverted out of the way of traffic.

On October 2, 2013, a vehicle struck the entrance to the west tunnel causing a lane to close for 23 minutes.

11: Bank holiday embargo

Most motorists may not know that the entire crossing is closed overnight for embargo to pass, during Easter, Spring, Christmas and New Year. The whole of the network is closed to allow heavy good and embargo to pass during periods where less traffic is on the roads.

12: Defect light fitting

One lane was shut between Junction 21 to 1A for 43 minutes due to a defect light fitting in May 2016.

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13: Collapsed manholes

In October the same year, a collapsed manhole closed a lane for more than six hours. The following year this happened in the east tunnel and emergency works took place for three hours.

Then in 2017, the incident occurred again with works taking place overnight due to the collapsed manhole on October 26.

14: Barrier damage

Before the tolls were removed and the Dart Charge system began November 30, 2014

When the structure of the crossing experiences damage the repair works can affect lane closures, from the toll lanes being closed before they were removed to a driver crashing into them. On April 10, 2015, a lane was closed when one car made contact with the barrier on the dedicated slip road between junction 1B and junction 2 southbound. This happened again in July the following year between junction 1A northbound from the A282, and the lane was closed for one hour and 44 minutes.

Also, a car that hit the barrier in lane two of junction 1A southbound fled the scene. The lane was closed for four hours and 19 minutes.

15: Someone changing their tyre

A lane was closed between junction 31 and junction 1A due to a HGV driver changing its tyre. The closure was in place for 25 minutes on August 10, 2017.

Other tyre problems included a tyre coming off a vehicle at the same location 16 days later.

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16: Broken down ambulance

General motorists are not the only people who experience vehicle problems. An ambulance broke down in the west tunnel with a critical patient on board on April 30, 2017. The carriageway was closed for 29 minutes as emergency services dealt with the incident.

17: Abandoned vehicle

Motorists can experience several problems whilst driving over the crossing

In August last year an abandoned vehicle closed lane one between junction 1B and junction 1A for 33 minutes.

18: Wheel hanging off

A driver’s wheel hanging off caused a closure on January 24, 2014.

An artic broken down vehicle was partly on the hardshoulder and lane one northbound closed on the approach to junction 1A.

The lane was closed for 26 minutes.

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19: Canopy loose

Another random reason there was a closure on the crossing occurred on May 5, 2015, where a lane was shut for seven hours and 28 minutes.

A canopy had become loose on a lorry or HGV travelling between junction 31 and junction 1A.

References

  1. ^ Essex Live (www.essexlive.news)

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