15 JAN 2016

Consultation Response to Highways England Managing Freight Vehicles through Kent: Future of TAP System

Further to my consultation response to Highways England: Managing Freight Vehicles through Kent, I set out in this separate response, my views on the future of the TAP system ("TAP") on the A20 at Dover.

TAP has been a real success in Dover. Since it was introduced in April 2015, TAP has gone a long way to reducing gridlock and congestion in the town centre. The system should become a permanent part of the management of freight vehicles through Kent.

 

TAP background

TAP was introduced as a temporary measure in April 2015 to ease gridlock in Dover.

TAP filters traffic into 2 lanes of the A20 outside Dover. When the Port is busy, freight traffic is held until Port entry can be made, while non-Port traffic is free to pass. There is a 40mph speed limit for some 6 miles on the Port-bound approach to Dover along the A20.

The Government's aim is to use this temporary period to collect and analyse traffic data to "achieve better traffic flows" for the area. Since its installation, TAP has been implemented some 137 times.

 

TAP future

TAP has proved successful in reducing freight congestion in Dover and has improved traffic flows. For this reason TAP should become a permanent feature of Dover's traffic management. That said, the system isn't perfect. There are improvements that need to be made. These are as follows:

 

  1. The 40mph speed restriction zone is too long. It should not be six miles, it should be no more than three miles at most and should start no further West than the Courtwood Junction.
  2. The 40mph speed restriction zone should be variable. It should only apply when TAP is implemented.
  3. The location of the TAP traffic control lights impacts adversely on the residents of the Aycliffe area of Dover. The lights should be moved some 200 yards to the West to a flat stretch of the A20 that will have less of an impact on residents.
  4. TAP is not implemented during Operation Stack. This should change as Dover suffers as a consequence when Operation Stack is implemented.
  5. TAP should have an ANPR system that should be used to make travel to the Port of Dover by the M20 mandatory. The use of the A2 for Port traffic has recently caused gridlock on the A2 Jubilee Way and caused Dover to be effectively cut off. This must change as it is very damaging to the local economy of Dover. A "No M20, No Port Entry" policy would free up the A2 and also stop lorries trying to sneak into the Port via the town.

 

Conclusion

TAP system has improved traffic flows through Dover. TAP should be made permanent and remain permanent even after the M20 Lorry Parks are built. Changes are needed to make improvements as detailed in this letter.

4 comments

FWIW sent this letter to local papers last week:- Readers fed up with the present speed limit on the A20 might be interested to hear that I spoke about this very matter to representatives of the Highways Agency only last week. I suggested that the imposition of the 40MPH limit on the A20 into Dover - supposedly as a safety measure to stop speeding drivers running into the back of the lorry queue the few times that we have Operation TAP - was causing much resentment locally. Motorists were being fined for exceeding the limit on days when the carriageways were completely clear, whilst others, keeping to this rather arbitrary speed limit, were being tail-gated by foreign registered lorries who knew they could flout the limits with impunity. Meanwhile many local drivers, myself included, were using the old A20 into Dover where we could keep up a much higher speed before clogging up the Folkestone Road with extra traffic. I suggested that the obvious solution was a variable speed limit which would only come into play when necessary i.e. when lorries were backed up onto the M20. He attempted to explain that the Highways Agency had not had the necessary technology (sic) and they also had to be mindful of what signage was put in so as not to ruin an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (I kid you not). I told him that it was absolutely pathetic to think that in 2015 such 'advanced' technology was not available even if it involved a man in a van just going down the A20 and switching the signs 'on' when needed and that his organisation was an absolute joke. He assured me that Highways Agency are now on top of the matter and a variable speed limit should be in force by Easter. I can only presume that highly skilled technicians are installing on/off switches on the signs as I write. I am not holding my breath! Bob Frost (Cllr)
- Bob Frost

In principal, I'm in agreement with the TAP Future points raised - particularly item #2. The point I'd like to add, and what anyone's me most - also, is the impact and management of road side litter these lorry//freight drives... there is no, or insufficient - well planned clear up policy?
- StefanL - Deal

It also needs to have some method of enforcement of both the speed limit (with fines collected from foreign drivers at the port) and the lanes. Currently, there has to be a police officer on duty at the traffic lights to stop lorries from using the right-hand lane and divert them back to the end of the queue. I watched several vehicles being turned round yesterday and also saw several more merging into the front of the line when the lights changed to green, thus jumping a queue of a couple of miles. It would also make more sense for the port traffic to use the right-hand lane, freeing up the left-hand lane for local traffic joining and leaving the A20 at the Courtwood Interchange and the Aycliffe roundabout. Currently, the system requires local traffic to cross between trucks at Courtwood, where they often leave only a small gap. It would also mean that the coast-bound on-ramp would not need to be closed to cars. A more reliable method of stopping trucks from using the Folkestone Road to access the port through the town centre would be helpful - many of them do not heed the notices.
- Bill Beer

It will only work properly if all the traffic uses the M20. Even when TAP was active the A2 and Jubilee way were gridlocked. Also major problems in the town with freight wagons trying to avoid the M20 coming down Whitfield hill and Castle Hill. Some people and vehicles were stuck on Jubilee way fo mor than an hour
- Richard

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Charlie Elphicke

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