Steel barriers in the middle of the carriageway. Thousands of cones weaving one way then the other. Speeds limited to 50mph. This is today's reality of the main route to the Channel Ports. The M20 has become the nation's slowest motorway.
Residents are furious – and rightly so. Operation Stack's replacement scheme Operation Brock started on March 25. This contraflow system between Junctions 8 and 9 London-bound was intended to allow traffic to flow in both directions should there be delays at Eurotunnel or the Port of Dover.
That was the intention. The reality has been yet another large section of the M20 with a reduced speed limit, joining most of the rest of the motorway where traffic flows at a snail's pace. Junction 10 has a 50mph limit because of roadworks to complete the new Junction 10A. Meanwhile Junctions 3 to 5 is being changed to become a so called "smart motorway". Both projects aren't due to be completed until 2020.
In the meantime, Kent drivers face long delays. And a speeding ticket if they even just slightly exceed the limit. With the new revenue-raising average speed cameras, motorists need to be sure to keep to a crawl for miles at a time. Maybe that's fine for those with expensive cars with cruise control, but it's not so easy for everyone else.
Yet again, this underlines why we need more investment in Kent's roads. Not Brock. Nor smart motorways. We need serious investment in wider roads and more capacity. Starting 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. Lorry parking that the Department for Transport was meant to build long ago. Kent MPs spent a long 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.
Investment in our roads has been put off by successive governments. It is needed now more than ever. That's why I will continue to work with my fellow Kent MP to make the case to secure the investment we need. I recently led a call by all of East Kent's MPs and council leaders for the A2 dualling to be urgently taken forward. I am meeting the roads minister again in the coming weeks to press our case.
Real investment in Kent's roads is long overdue. Better roads to the Channel Ports is not simply a priority for our community – it is a national priority too. A smoother flow across the English Channel with fewer delays will benefit our trade and our economy. That's why I am fighting tirelessly to ensure we get a better deal – with more investment in our roads.
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