Residents and drivers thanked for their patience following weekend travel disruption
Leaders of the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF)are thanking local residents, drivers and business for their patience, following a period of severe traffic disruption to the road network in Kent over the weekend as a result of problems at the ports.
Severe delays and congestion on routes to Dover occurred from Friday and throughout the weekend, after several issues coincided to create a significant backlog of port-bound freight traffic.
Initial delays were caused as a result of storms across the Channel on Thursday evening which impacted on reduced ferry capacity. Two vessels were unable to sail due to weather conditions and another vessel was damaged, leading to it being out of service for repairs.
This further reduction of services, coupled with the existing impact of suspended P&O ferry services and some snow related traffic incidents, resulted in widespread traffic disruption, especially on the various approaches to Dover.
KRF Strategic Planning Lead, Simon Jones, said: “We would like to thank everyone affected for their patience during what was a particularly challenging and prolonged period of disruption to Kent’s road network, surrounding towns, villages and communities. The impact that the traffic disruption had on local residents who were unable to go about their daily lives was significant, whilst the frustrations of HVG drivers and hauliers was understandable considering the delays encountered.”
“We will be reviewing the measures that were put in place to determine what improvements can be made in the event of future disruptions, in order to minimise the impact to communities and to improve the flow of traffic.”
The Operation Brock barrier was already in place as a precautionary measure ahead of the busy Easter holiday getaway period and while P&O ferry services remain out of service.
Freight was being held in moving queues before being released in a controlled manner to the ports for departure, however the build-up of high volumes of freight in the contraflow required additional controls to be put in place both within Brock and elsewhere across the strategic road network.
Efforts were made by operators to provide as many departures as possible, including many night sailings and train capacity was increased to help clear the backlog.
Unfortunately, a high number of HGV vehicles attempted to bypass the established traffic management and sought to use other routes to try to get to the ports, blocking local roads and heavily impacting both Dover and Folkestone.
Changes were made at the start of Brock to improve driver compliance and additional resources were deployed at key locations to reinforce the traffic management control to allow local roads to recover.
These included the temporary full closure of the M20 London bound carriageway between junctions 9 and 8 to non-freight traffic from Friday evening, to allow for an extra lane of freight to be held. In addition, traffic management measures had to be put in place to stop HGVs using the A2 to Dover at Brenley Corner and near Whitfield.
Most traffic was cleared by Sunday evening, with the M20 contraflow reopening, although there have been some delays today for freight using Eurotunnel due to an earlier issue.
Local authorities are making arrangements to clear rubbish from roads affected by queuing traffic.
KRF leaders are warning of the potential for further traffic disruption over the Easter holiday period and are advising people travelling in and through Kent to ensure they are fully prepared.
Simon Jones said: “While every effort is being made to mitigate the risk of further disruption to the road network, we have to be prepared for the possibility of further hold-ups continuing over the Easter holidays. With the return of tourist traffic across the Channel and the continued reduction to ferry services, the threat remains that journey will take longer than planned.
“We would advise anyone travelling in or through Kent to the ports to ensure they check with their operator before they set off and be prepared for longer travel times. Please pack sufficient supplies of water, food and other essential items to stay safe, keep healthy and be as comfortable as possible during your journey.”
For where to go for the latest traffic and travel updates in Kent visit: Check before you travel – Kent County Council
For more information on Operation Brock visit National Highways website here.