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Newspaper Columns

KM Column - M20 Closures - 15 August 2019

It’s not often I end up sporting an orange high visibility jacket, trousers, steel cap boots and a hard hat, but I needed them to visit the M20, and with good reason. I know that for many the 50mph speed restrictions along that length of road are frustrating but having been on the ground myself, I can say that having this restriction in place is an incredibly important for the safety of the people who are working hard beside it. It was interesting to see what part everyone was playing in building the new smart motorway and getting it up and running as soon as possible.

Some areas, particularly between Junctions 4 and 5, are getting acoustic fences erected which would reduce the noise impact once the work is done and between Junctions 3 and 4, Highways England have confirmed that all lanes of the motorway will be resurfaced instead with quieter resurfacing material. In addition, semi-mature species will be planted, rather than saplings, so they have a more immediate impact in terms of reducing noise. 

I know that for a lot of local residents end of the works cannot come soon enough, especially with another 47 road closures coming up over the next few months - that’s every other night, on average. I know that this will continue to have a huge impact on local traffic and residents. But I used my time at the M20 to speak to Highways England and ensure they were left in no doubt that more needed to be done to limit the impact. I suggested that the A2 and M2 be used as an alternative diversion route for HGVs, rather than the current unsuitable rat runs through smaller roads. Kent County Council are aware of the use of the A20 as the official diversion route and I have written to them this week to ask that they also push for an alternative diversion using the A2 and M2 instead, which I know will be much better for local residents.

Georgie Welford