A £55.1m project to help keep traffic moving on the M20 in Kent in the event of cross-Channel disruption starts next month, says Highways England.
The overnight work is necessary to install a new moveable barrier which can be deployed, when required, as part of a system to minimise disruption to drivers and Kent communities.
The system will allow port-bound lorries to be held on the motorway and at the same time help ensure other traffic continues to run in both directions.
Unlike previous solutions it also means that, when it is not deployed, the M20 motorway will be able to operate with three lanes running in each direction, at 70mph.
The new system requires work to be carried out on the hard shoulder between junctions 9 and 8 of the London-bound carriageway to prepare the M20 for the new moveable barrier.
The work to do this will require various overnight or lane closures between the junctions from 1 September and the end of November.
Nicola Bell, Highways England South East regional director, said: “Road closures are always challenging and we recognise the impact this work will have on the region’s businesses and local communities. However, this new solution avoids month long closures to install the steel barrier and by closing the road overnight, we are reducing disruption during busier periods, which is positive for drivers, local businesses and residents.”
The work has been carefully planned to avoid closures during the August bank holiday and October half term.
The work to install the barrier will be carried out on a 7.5 mile stretch of the motorway at a time, and will be carried out in parts, to minimise disruption. Work will primarily take place behind a safety barrier separating the work from the live carriageway. The safety barrier will gradually be moved up the motorway as sections of the work are completed. The barrier is expected to move along the carriageway once every two weeks.
The London-bound carriageway will be closed overnight, between 9pm and 6am, from 1 to 11 September to install the safety barrier, and between 16 and 25 of November to take it down. Closing the road overnight ensures that no full closures in the daytime are needed.
During the work, the London-bound carriageway will be reduced to two lanes for safety with a speed limit of 50mph. Work to install gates on the central reservation will require some additional overnight closures of the London-bound carriageway and overnight lane closures on the coast-bound carriageway. The coast-bound M20 will remain open at 60mph while this work is taking place. Advance notice of these closures will be communicated nearer the time.
Whenever the London-bound carriageway is closed clearly signed diversion routes will be in place:
Junction 9 to 8 London bound diversion route: Traffic will be diverted from junction 9 via the A20 to re-join the M20 at junction 8.
Vehicles over 4.7m high need to follow a different route, which is to turn around at junction 9 to re-join the M20 towards Dover, then the A20, the A2, then the M2. Drivers should then leave the M2 for the A249, to re-join the M20 at junction 7 and head back towards junction 8.
This work has been planned with Kent Resilience Forum partners, including Kent Police and Kent County Council.