The M20 is the slowest motorway in Britain. This weekend saw yet more delays thanks to the latest works.
The closures – this time in both directions between junctions 9 and 11 for resurfacing – were a nightmare for drivers. They came on top of ongoing works between junction 3 and 5 to make it a so-called a “smart motorway”. And the hundreds of thousands of cones that now seem to line every major road in and around Ashford as they continue to build the new Junction 10A.
Then there are the steel barriers down the middle of the carriageway for Operation Brock – the contraflow scheme that is supposed to replace Operation Stack. All these things have contrived to turn the M20 – a vital cog in our trading machine – into the nation’s slowest motorway. Yet again, it underlines why we need more investment in Kent’s roads. Not Brock. Nor smart motorways. We need serious investment in wider roads and more road capacity.
That starts with dualling the A2. By 2030, freight traffic at Dover is projected to rise by 40%. A single carriageway A2 is simply inadequate. There needs to be investment in off-motorway lorry parking too. Kent MPs spent a lot of time convincing the Department for Transport to provide money for the Stanford lorry park. Now we need to get that important project back on track. And we need a better road between Dover and Deal to boot. The A258 is congested, inefficient and dangerous. A dual carriageway linking north Deal to the Eastry bypass is vital.
These major projects must be delivered. In the meantime, our priority should be ensuring our towns aren’t gridlocked by queuing trucks. That’s why I welcome the Department for Transport’s new enforcement scheme – something I have long called for. Until now drivers were able to bypass traffic management queues by heading down smaller roads like the B2011, York Street and Jubilee Way. Before long Dover is at a standstill. Under the new plans, lorry drivers would have to present a permit to show they had queued correctly – or be fined £300 and sent straight to the back.
It's encouraging to see a Government that is serious about leaving the European Union – and preparing for every eventuality. Money is being spent on extra border officers, customs agents and better IT systems. Not only is this a sensible precaution – it means European leaders know we are serious about leaving, deal or no deal. That gives us a better chance of securing a good one. Most importantly, it means we can finally deliver what people voted for more than three years ago.
And then we can focus on all the other hugely important things – schools, healthcare, home ownership, the economy. And transport. These M20 problems have gone on long enough. Only real investment in our roads will end years of frustration.