Firms could pay for new lights at danger junction
Cash-strapped council chiefs hoping to install traffic lights at a notorious junction could be forced to go cap in hand to business owners asking them to help pay for it.
Transport chiefs are assessing the future of the Barrey Road junction leading to the Ashford Retail Park off the A2070 in Sevington.
They think it will cost about £270,000 to install permanent traffic lights and alter the road layout, but admit they do not yet have the money to pay for it.
Kent County Council project manager Andy Moreton told a meeting of Ashford’s Joint Transportation Board (JTB) on Tuesday how finding the funding is proving a challenge.
“We are struggling to find the money to do the permanent works,” he said. “I do know there are a lot of discussions internally about the funding element, which will be the difficult one to solve – discussions are ongoing with Highways England.
“We could get the begging bowls out with the business community and developers.”
The Kentish Express has regularly reported on readers’ safety concerns about the junction, which becomes congested when shoppers turn off and try to cross the dual carriageway. It has been described by road campaigners as a “death trap”.
Several petitions have called for greater safety at the junction, supported by Kent County Councillor George Koowaree along with business leaders including Wendy Rowe from Retainagroup, and mum Stacey-Louise Smith.
The traffic lights option was first revealed in June – three months after Highways England cut the speed limit around the junction to 40mph – and since then Highways England asked contractors Vinci and Taylor Woodrow to review the traffic light options.
They found it would cost £60,000 to install temporary lights for a year, while putting in permanent signals without changing the road layout would cost £187,000.
The third preferred option – to alter the road layout and put in permanent lights – would cost £270,000.
Contractors say the best option for putting permanent traffic signals in place will be at the same time as the junction 10a works, which are due to start next year if the M20 scheme is approved.
Mr Moreton, who said the Barrrey Road improvements could still attract funding from Highways England, said: “I would rather our focus was on the permanent traffic lights than the temporary arrangement.
“The pressure is being maintained, it is being taken incredibly seriously and everybody is working hard to take it to a satisfactory conclusion.
“There is a lot of support from Ashford Borough Council and Highways England – things are moving forward.”
Cllr Koowaree, of Tadworth Road, said: “I have been waiting for these improvements for almost 20 years and I can wait another five years as long as we get it right. It is an important issue.”
Barrey Road junction on the A2070 at Sevington Industrial Estate. Right, our front page story on the issue