Motorists have been warned to expect lengthy queues after the Dartford Tunnel was closed indefinitely this afternoon – officials from the UK Tunnel Inspectorate SUSPENDED the crossing owner’s tunnel licence after tests showed ‘unacceptable oxygen levels’ at various points in both tunnels.
Sir David Greenhithe, chairman of the UKTI, spoke to Southend News Network earlier his evening. He confirmed that his officials were left with no alternative other than to close the tunnel.
He said: ‘A number of complaints were received from members of the public who had allegedly experienced a light-headed feeling while using the tunnels.’
‘Our officials arrived at the crossing this afternoon for a spot inspection, and part of this involved taking oxygen readings in both tunnels. At the central point of each tunnel, our gauges showed that the air wasn’t breathable without specialist apparatus due to unsafe high concentrations of the gas.’
‘With oxygen levels that high, any passing motorist or passenger with the windows down could feel very light-headed and lose the ability to concentrate – this could in turn lead to nasty accidents and so we were forced to act.’
‘The crossing’s owner Arnaque International has had their tunnel license suspended until they are able to return oxygen levels to a safe reading. We have suggested drilling regular holes to allow excess oxygen to escape into the Thames above, and standard industrial-issue flowback filters will prevent water from getting into the tunnels.’
In a late development, senior crossing managers have revealed plans to allow traffic to flow in both directions over the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Taking inspiration from the Army and Navy Bridge in Chelmsford, the bridge will operate in either direction for 15-minute intervals.
Although details are sketchy about how this will work at the present time, a source has confirmed a 2.5% toll discount while the two-way setup is in place.