Original article from Kent Live
Details of work to deactivate the moveable concrete barrier on the M20 have been confirmed today by Highways England.
The removal of the barrier, which will start on Saturday (April 24) and take two days will see the motorway finally return to three full width lanes at the national speed limit in both directions.
The barrier has been in place on a 15-mile section of the M20 between junctions 8 (for Maidstone) and 9 (at Ashford) since late December 2020, reflecting the risk of potential traffic disruption during this period due to Brexit.
Highways England has agreed with the Kent Resilience Forum and the Department for Transport it is the right time to deactivate the contraflow.
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The work to remove the contraflow will be completed under a full closure of the M20 on the coastbound from junctions 7 to 9 and on the Londonbound from junctions 9 to 8 from 8pm on April 24 until 8am on April 25.
Work will resume overnight on the Londonbound carriageway from 8pm on April 25 until 6am on April 26 to remove the barrier.
This work, says Highways England, has been carefully planned over the weekend to reduce disruption.
Once removed, the moveable barrier will sit along the M20 should the contraflow could be re-activated in future for any future cross-channel disruption.
Clearly signed diversion routes will be in place on the A20 to help road users reach their destination.
The diversion routes are as follows:
- Junction 9 to 8 Londonbound diversion route: Traffic will be diverted from junction 9 towards the A20 Maidstone, then re-join the M20 motorway at junction 8. Vehicles over 4.7m height need to follow a different route which is to turn around at junction 9 to re-join the M20 towards Dover, then the A20 heading for Dover, then follow the A2 towards Canterbury, then the M2 London, exiting the motorway at junction 7 onto the A249 towards Maidstone to re-join the M20 motorway at junction 7. Junction 8 can be accessed via the A20 for vehicles under 4.7m.
- Junction 7 to 9 coastbound diversion route: Traffic will be diverted from junction 7, heading towards the A249 Canterbury, then follow the M2 Dover, then A2 Dover, then the A20 London which re-joins the M20.
Access permit scrapped
Kent Resilience Forum partners have monitored traffic levels closely over the last several months and are confident the new processes for HGV drivers no longer pose a substantial risk of causing significant traffic disruption on the county’s road network.
The decision coincides with the announcement made by the Department for Transport today that hauliers will also no longer require a Kent Access Permit to travel through the county.
Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Faulconbridge of Kent Police, who is also the Chair of the Kent Resilience Forum, said: "With freight volumes back to normal, customs rules better understood and Covid-19 testing sites now well-established across the UK, the time is right for the Operation Brock contraflow to be removed.
"I would like to thank the people of Kent for their patience and understanding whilst the barrier has been in place.
"It is however important to note that the barrier will remain on the hard shoulder and can be activated again in the future if necessary.
"Alongside our partners we will continue to monitor traffic levels closely over the weeks and months to come, including during an expected increase when tourists are once again allowed to access Kent’s ports, to ensure any emerging issues are suitably addressed."
Nicola Bell, Highways England Regional Director, added: "The last four months have not been without their challenges and I would like to pay testament to the hundreds of workers across the Kent Resilience Forum who have worked – and continue to work – around the clock to ensure that traffic continues to move smoothly through Kent."
Kent County Council's senior highways manager Toby Howe commented: "Operation Brock was a key part of our traffic management plan to keep Kent moving in the weeks immediately after the end of the EU transition period. It worked well and got the job done.
"Despite the added challenge of COVID-testing hauliers, the much-anticipated disruption did not materialise thanks in part to the robust planning of the Kent Resilience Forum and hundreds of thousands of lorries have travelled via Brock through the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel since January – playing a vital role in keeping goods flowing and our supermarket shelves stocked.
"Of course we know there is no room for complacency in our efforts to keep the county’s roads clear as the UK emerges from lockdown. We’ll be watching traffic levels closely as shops and services continue opening up and we head towards the eventual return of international travel. We remain well prepared to do all we can to help everyone – hauliers and tourists alike – drive safely in Kent this summer."