The first round of funding has been secured to widen the A2 to the Port of Dover. Department for Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris told me that Highways England has been given funding to “investigate options for improving the A2 around Dover”. It follows a long local campaign to get the A2 dualled, including a specific request for a feasibility study from me earlier this year.
Along with Dover District Council, Kent County Council and the Port of Dover I am strongly in favour of widening the road, which was first suggested in the 1980s. This is a first step in the right direction – and it has been a long time coming. Everyone knows we have needed major road upgrades for years. Unfortunately, for decades no-one has listened. Yet we have kept fighting and it looks like the Government is finally taking notice. This area has endured traffic problems for far too long. We’ve been clear that it’s time for proper investment to put it right.
Public bodies believe widening the A2 would provide a viable alternative for traffic bound for the port, particularly when the Third Thames Crossing is built. The Port has also expressed a desire to operate a second TAP scheme. The first, on the A20, means lorries queuing down the left-hand lane of the A20 when there are delays. It has significantly reduced gridlock incidents in Dover, as well as prevented Operation Stack from being implemented at all since 2015.
Mr Heaton-Harris revealed the new funding in response to the latest representations from me about Brexit contingency planning. The Brexit Taskforce, which I chair, had called for more traffic officers and traffic powers in the event of a no-deal Brexit. DfT recently outlined plans for a permit scheme, where lorry drivers faced a £300 fine for not queuing correctly, not having the right documentation to cross the border, or for entering the local road network.