New M20 junc­tion will now cost £56m

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE - by Paul Francis

Cost of new M20 junc­tion soars by £11mil­lion as coun­cil wins fight to keep ca­pac­ity

THE cost of build­ing a new mo­tor­way junc­tion on the M20 to ease con­ges­tion around Ash­ford has soared by £11mil­lion, it has emerged.

The High­ways Agency says con­struct­ing a new Junc­tion 10a on the M20, south of the ex­ist­ing Junc­tion 10, is now ex­pected to cost £56 mil­lion, an in­crease from the £45 mil­lion first es­ti­mated.

But a sug­ges­tion that costs could be kept down by re­strict­ing ca­pac­ity at the new junc­tion, ef­fec­tively lim­it­ing the amount of traf­fic it could take, has been suc­cess­fully re­sisted by Ash­ford coun­cil chiefs.

Coun­cil leader Paul Clokie (Con) said the pro­posal had been firmly re­jected and the ex­tra costs would be ab­sorbed by English Part­ner­ships, a quango over­see­ing the scheme.

“The High­ways Agency wanted to limit the junc­tion’s ca­pac­ity to traf­fic lev­els ex­pected by 2021, rather than 2031.

“That would have been a non­sense,” he said.

The new junc­tion, pro­vid­ing a link road to the A2070, is seen as crit­i­cal if the town and sur­round­ing area are to avoid be­com­ing grid­locked.

Its de­vel­op­ment fol­lowed con­cerns that the ex­ist­ing Junc­tion 10 would be un­able to cope with the mas­sive house-build­ing ex­pan­sion of the area un­der the Gov­ern­ment’s growth plan.

Con­sul­ta­tion on the scheme is due to get un­der­way this sum­mer, with build­ing work ear­marked to be­gin about 2010.

In a state­ment, a spokesman for the High­ways Agency said: “The pro­pos­als for J10a have re­cently been de­vel­oped to nar­row down the op­tions to more closely re­flect the as­pi­ra­tions of Ash­ford’s Fu­ture.

“The cur­rent es­ti­mated cost more closely re­flects the up­dated de­sign.”

Cllr Paul Clokie: ‘Re­duced ca­pac­ity is a non­sense’

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