Road widening bringing more misery motorists’ way
IT’S GOING to get worse.
More misery and disruption is on its way for residents and motorists as protests mount over the “devastating” axing of trees and greenery at a major Ashford roundabout.
Officials warned this week that “main construction” work at Drovers roundabout, off junction 9 of the M20, will start at the end of this month, causing even longer traffic delays while carriageways are widened.
The Maidstone Road approach has already lost one lane, causing long queues, while a separate project continues in the area to lay new water pipes.
A spokesman for Kent County Council, which has overall responsibility for the road widening project, said: “There will inevitably be disruption to traffic. The contractor will try and keep traffic on two lanes where possible throughout the building process.”
The lane widening scheme, due to be completed by next March, will at some stage also involve the closure of the Ashford M20 turn-off over some weekends, the spokesman warned.
This will also occur on some nights during the construction of a footbridge over the motorway and to work on the slip roads.
To make way for the heavy machinery, there has been a steady stripping out of vegetation at and around the Drovers roundabout, culminating last week in a complete flattening of greenery on the roundabout and its approaches.
The clearance outraged nearby residents who described it as “devastating” and “excessive”. Others fear the loss of habitats for birds and rabbits.
All that is now left on the roundabout are its iconic cow and drover sculptures, which were previously hidden away behind bushes.
But the KCC spokesman added: “The improvements to the M20 junction 9 and Drovers roundabout will make it easier to travel across town by car, on foot, by bike or by bus.”
KCC says the changes include:
The widening of carriageways of up to four lanes in places.
Sets of traffic lights being installed for the first time at Drovers to control approaching traffic and allow Smartlink buses to cross the roundabout.
A proposed park and ride site near Drovers to serve the town centre, resulting in reduced traffic in busy Ashford.
The building of a foot and cycle bridge over the M20.
A complete re-landscaping of the area to make it green again.
The spokesman added: “No further major changes should be needed for at least 20 years.”
Save the Cows on the Cow roundabout – a Facebook group set up to protest about the changes – has now grown to more than 1,200 members.
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Drovers Roundabout - cleared of all trees and vegetation