Los­ing hard shoul­der is no ‘up­grade’

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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