THE Highways Agency has released images showing how the introduction of free-flow tolling at the Dartford Crossing will completely transform the road layout.

Work to remove the payment booths will coincide with Dart Charge - which will charge motorists for using the crossing via an automatic number place recognition system - going live in late November, and is expected to be complete next spring.

The images show how the 27-lane payment plaza will be replaced by four open lanes in each direction and the approach to the tunnels will be enhanced with technology and dedicated extra lanes to help identify and turn away prohibited vehicle types before they enter the tunnels.

It is hoped the scheme will improve journeys at the Dartford Crossing by removing the need for drivers to stop at a barrier to pay the crossing charge.

Instead, drivers will be able to pay online, by phone, by post or at one of thousands of Payzone outlets nationwide, either in advance of their journey or by midnight on the day following it.

It is part of government plans to improve traffic flow at the vital gateway between Kent and Essex.

Nigel Gray, the Dart Charge project director, said: "It's only when the booths have been removed that the full benefits of Dart Charge will be felt, and we will get underway on this work at the same time that the new payment arrangements begin.

"It's complicated work - especially on the northbound carriageway, where we need to protect the tunnels - one of which was built in the 1960s and has a lower height restriction - from over-height vehicles.

"We’ll be completely redesigning the approach to the tunnels to detect and turn around these vehicles and other vehicles not suitable for the tunnels, using a system of signals, barriers and extra lanes, while keeping all other traffic flowing as much as possible."

Echo: How the entrance to the Dartford Tunnel will look

How the entrance to the Dartford Tunnel will look when redesign work is complete


More than 33,000 people have signed up for Dart Charge updates, and the Dart Charge team have been answering hundreds of questions about the project from interested drivers. Here are answers to some of the most common questions they have been asked in September:

Q: How will I be able to pay the Crossing charge?

A: Dart Charge will give you much more flexibility about how and when you pay the Dartford Crossing charge. You will be able to pay online, by phone or by post, or at one of thousands of Payzone terminals at shops nationwide. You can pay up to a year in advance, or by midnight on the day after your journey.

Q: Will I still be able to pay in cash at the Crossing?

A: No. Dart Charge will reduce congestion by removing the need to stop at a barrier to pay the charge at the Crossing.

Q: Do current discounts and exemptions still apply?

A:  Yes, exemptions and discounts will still apply.

Where vehicles are currently legally exempt from paying the Crossing charge, these exemptions will continue. This includes vehicles exempt from paying Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). Blue badge holders are not exempt; the vehicle itself must be registered as exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).
Residents of the boroughs of Dartford and Thurrock will continue to be entitled to discounts on the road user charge, through the Local Residents’ Discount Scheme  
Everyone  will be able to benefit from a discount in the Crossing charge by setting up a Dart Charge pre-pay account and keep it in credit -you can save up to one-third on each crossing.
Mopeds, motorcycles, motor tricycles and quadricycles (quad bikes) will still be permitted to use the Crossing for free

Q: What happens if I don’t pay?

A: If you don’t pay for your crossing by midnight the day after your journey, you will be issued with a penalty charge notice. This is £70, but reduced to £35 if you pay within 14 days. If the penalty charge is not paid within 28 days it will increase to £105. We will have enforcement arrangements in place across all of Europe, so will be able to enforce the charge effectively both in the UK and abroad.

Q: I’m worried that I won’t be ready for the change – what do I need to do?

A: If you sign up for updates at we’ll keep you informed at every step of the way. We’re committed to making Dart Charge as simple as possible, and giving people plenty of time and information to help them prepare for the changes.