Road widen­ing bring­ing more mis­ery mo­torists’ way

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Nick Lil­li­tos nlil­li­tos@thek­m­

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.

What do you think? Write to Ken­tish Ex­press, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, Kent TN24 8JR or email ken­tishex press@thek­m­

Pic­ture: Gary Browne

Drovers Round­about - cleared of all trees and veg­e­ta­tion

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