Old junction was better in so many ways
READERS are familiar with our regular reports on subjects that cause irritation to residents such as the disruption caused by the shared space, the replacement of the Newtown Road Bridge, and the removal of the roundabout outside the International Station. But one subject that brought floods of complaints was the widening and upgrade of Junction 10 including the replacement of traffic signals. Many attempted to convince road chiefs to abandon the lights altogether, as while the works were being undertaken the lights were out of use and, amazingly, the traffic hotspot flowed better that usual. Drivers who have regularly experienced gridlock at the interchange failed to win their case to have the lights removed. Instead, the highway authority began to replace all the sensor-type traffic lights around town all at once with those working on timers, causing further delays, and seemed to show no interest in taking the complaints on board.
This week we look back at the area in 1976, in the years prior to the completion of the M20 and the need for such a junction. Before the motorway, the former A20 Ashford Bypass – opened in July 1957 – terminated here, but things looked very different compared with today, and are captured in this recently acquired picture. This splendid view shows the area 33 years ago, prior to the demolition of the houses at the top of Hythe Road and Lacton Way, on the right, for the current M20. The introduction of the bypass had changed this area considerably, and The Street – on the left of the picture – had been severed, leaving it more or less a slip road, as pictured here. The junction of Kennington Road can be seen further along on the left. The dualling of the A20 ended at the rear of Crooksfoot, where the remainder of the road continued in its truncated section to Newingreen, as it does today. Many locals still speak of picking strawberries at Court Lodge Farm, just behind the houses furthest away, which disappeared when the motorway carved its way through. Maybe things would have been easier if this route in the illustrated format existed today. Free flow traffic with no traffic lights in sight! The situation might improve, if the lights were set up properly in the first place, and pressure sensors in the road were reconnected to allow the town’s traffic to run freely again. Today we spend more time waiting in traffic around the town than we do enjoying it.
The A20 Ashford bypass at Willesborough in the days before the advent of the M20 and the notorious Junction 10