It’s time to reopen what has become the slowest motorway in Britain.
The M20 has endured endless roadworks. Many of them are pointless and some are simply taking far too long. The result? A huge impact on local businesses, and a frustrating experience for drivers across Kent. That’s why I have called on ministers to reopen the route and get things moving again.
Firstly, smart motorways are not smart. They are deadly. They are an attempt to squeeze in more lanes on the same width of motorway. With 100 miles having been built across the country, already at least people five people have died.
On the M20, £92 million is being spent converting a six-mile stretch between junctions 3 and 5 into this sort of deadly motorway. The boss of Highways England recently announced they are putting a hold on new Smart Motorway schemes, because they are "too complicated" for drivers. Quite right.
It is therefore costing a fortune to make the M20 more dangerous. The project should be abandoned. The sooner it is, the sooner the 50mph limit can be ended, restoring the motorway to be free-flowing once more.
Meanwhile the Junction 10A project is a public advert for reform of road building. These works are hugely disruptive and have taken far too long. A scheduled opening for September was missed. We are now looking at November at the earliest. It highlights why we should bring back the “rent a lane” policy of the Thatcher years. This involves charging contractors for the length of time they take, incentivising them to finish as quickly as they can. We cannot tolerate projects dragging on endlessly with but a few workers ever visibly on site.
Finally we need to cancel Operation Brock which was put in place again on Monday. The contraflow system is there in case of a no-deal Brexit. Yet it’s perfectly obvious to all that opposition parties have subverted our leaving the EU at the end of October. So why should we be inconvenienced by something that will not be happening? I have therefore also asked ministers to immediately cancel its implementation.
Our roads don’t need these half-baked schemes. They need better planning – so as not make it impossible for us to go about our business. They also need proper investment in extra capacity. That’s why I was so pleased ministers agreed to my demands to provide funding to widen the A2 between Lydden and the Port of Dover.
But there is so much more we could do. Lorry parks off the M20 have been needed for years. As has a new Dover to Deal road – because the existing route is far too congested. We should use the savings from axing the deadly motorway schemes to get on with much needed projects like these.
That’s why it’s time to re-open the M20 – and invest in the roads we need for a brighter future.