Losing hard shoulder is no ‘upgrade’
Senior reporter Senior reporter Thank you for publicising the exhibitions of Highways England’s plans to ‘upgrade’ the M20 between junction 3 and 5. Your article enabled me to attend the final exhibition at Aylesford.
Sadly the plan to spend £92m on this 6.5 mile stretch of motorway will not really “add an extra lane in each direction”.
The two-year project will actually remove the hard shoulder and turn it into a fourth running lane at all times, whether there is congestion or not.
This means it will never be available for those who break down to use as a place of relative safety from fast-moving traffic, nor for access by emergency services or recovery vehicles, to accidents and fires on the motorway.
If this project goes ahead, drivers should pray they won’t break down because those who do are expected to limp up to two miles to a newlybuilt refuge area, or else face the frightening prospect of being stuck in the middle of fast traffic on the four-lane motorway.
To make matters worse the M20 has far more foreign drivers (including HGVs) than any other motorway on which this plan has been tried out, so there will be a lower level of understanding of road signs about these arrangements.
Readers who would like to ask for more refuge areas, multilingual signage, or have any other comments, can email Highways England on M20.J3-5Smart@ highwaysengland.co.uk with their views. Senior reporter Senior reporter Jeremy Baker, Fir Tree Close, Canterbury
I am delighted see the Highways England scheme to introduce a SMART motorway from junctions 4-5 of the M20 has been published.
My concern is that the scheme is so limited in its scope as the only offered solution for massive increases in traffic directly resulting from the very large increase in traffic we already encounter daily as users of the M20 as a bypass for Maidstone.
The M20 is principally the major trunk route to the UK and Europe, with enormous lorries relentlessly trundling through Kent, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the initial traffic build-up is beyond the design capacity at most junctions.
Planning and funding of the essential roads infrastructure changes to match the housing Senior reporter Reporter levels demanded by Government policy now seems to be all too late to avoid stagnation.
Currently we see the impacts daily when only a relatively small proportion of the 18,600 new homes planned for the Maidstone borough are yet built and occupied.
Local roads are already in chaos and Junctions 3 through 8 with the M20 are at gridlock at peak times.
Surely now is the time to get the current developers to fund the necessary monies to extend the SMART solution from Junction 5 to Junction 8 to enable better dispersal of quickly growing levels of peak time traffic that will become a permanent state of affairs for Maidstone.
The people of Maidstone deserve better than the current plans show to date. Keith Young Corben Close, Allington
A public exhibition on SMART motorway plans for the M20