The Highways Agency has confirmed that work on removing the 27-lanes of barriers from the Dartford Crossing will now likely be completed before the end of spring next year.

The barriers will be replaced by four open lanes and an automatic payment system, Dart Charge, which will go live in late November, before all the barriers have been removed.

The HA delayed building work to remove the barrier system in October to late November due to how complicated the work is.

The Dart Charge system will use automatic number plate recognition technology (APNR) to pick up vehicle numbers plates and then administer a charge to that vehicle.

The system will go live in late November to conincide with the start of building work to remove the barriers.

Motorists can pay the Dart Charge from a pre-paid online account linked to their car’s number plate, or they can pay after they have driven through online, by phone, text or a Payzone shop. The limit for paying after a journey is set at midnight on the day after travel. After that point drivers will be sent a fine of £35, provided it is paid within 14 days.

Nigel Gray, 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.”

To make sure that drivers and fleets will be aware of the changes to the crossing, the Highways Agency is spending more than £1.1m on a public information campaign that kicked off in September.

.     Read BusinessCar’s analysis of DartCharge and how it will affect fleets here.