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  • Kent County Council Press Office

Check before you travel reminder

28 January 2022

As freight volumes increase, and COVID travel restrictions are set to further ease, Kent Resilience Forum leaders are reminding local residents and people driving in or through Kent to always check their route before travelling.

The reminder comes as National Highways’ work to transfer the M20 moveable barrier from the hard shoulder to the central reservation between junctions 8-9 gets underway tonight.

National Highways says storing the barrier on the London-bound hard shoulder was a temporary measure and relocating it to a permanent position will restore the emergency lane between Ashford and Maidstone to its original width. It will also make the infrastructure easier to use.

The project involves extensive construction work along the 13-mile stretch of motorway, including upgrading drainage, signs and CCTV, and will be carried out in phases over 12 months.

National Highways has assured fellow members of the multi-agency KRF partnership that should the barrier be needed to create the Operation Brock contraflow at any time during this period it can easily be done. National Highways will also operate a free recovery service between j8-9 to swiftly and safely remove breakdowns for the duration of the project.

The relocation of the barrier follows what has been a busy January for Kent’s cross-Channel routes. Freight levels have quickly bounced back after the traditional festive lull, two ferries at Dover have been offline for seasonal refits and additional new checks required at customs have combined to require the frequent use of traffic controls on the A20, which feeds the ferry terminal.

Requested by Port of Dover, and approved by National Highways, TAP20 has so far been used 16 times this month to queue HGVs in the left lane as they make their way towards border crossing points. The scheme frees up the outside lane for local and through traffic not heading across the Channel and seeks to ensure that Dover town is kept free for local traffic.

The easing of COVID travel restrictions in time for February half-term will also contribute to Kent’s roads getting busy again.

Simon Jones, KRF Strategic Planning Lead and Kent County Council’s Corporate Director for Growth, Environment and Transport, said: “Kent is a vital strategic route to Europe. More than 6,300 freight vehicles alone routinely use our roads daily to reach Europe.

“With COVID testing no longer required from 11 February for fully-vaccinated passengers departing, or arriving in the UK, tourist traffic will also be returning in significant numbers. With many denied the chance to travel to France at Christmas, we are keeping a close eye on the upcoming school holiday getaway.

“Anyone planning to use Kent’s roads should always be prepared for journeys to be longer than expected and to stay in touch with the latest traffic and travel information.”

Simple safe travel steps people can take ‘Every Single Journey’ include:

  • CHECKING your route before you travel – for where to go for the latest traffic and travel updates in Kent visit Kent County Council’s Travel & Transport page here

  • ALLOWING extra time to get to your destination – because traffic jams can happen anywhere

  • PACKING your car with essentials – including food, water, any medication you need and supplies such as warm blankets in cold weather, and

  • CHECKING your vehicle (tyres, lights, fuel, oil and water) before you set off – most breakdowns are avoidable. For more information on how to check over your vehicle check out the National Highways’ website here

For updates on the National Highways’ barrier works:

For more about Dover TAP click here

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