Published: 12:00, 26 May 2016
A huge lorry park off the M20 to alleviate Operation Stack could be open by next summer, it has been announced.
Balfour Beatty has been appointed to build and design the 3,600 space site - in a £130 million contract.
The firm said today the site could be "partially open" as early as summer 2017.
A final decision on the site earmarked at Stanford is yet to be made by transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, regarding the scheme.
This would include the make-up of the site and its location.
Highways England consulted on two proposed sites around the Stanford area at junction 11 of the M20 earlier this year.
The results of the consultation have not yet been published.
But Balfour Beatty (BB) were today confirmed as the contractors for the construction of the proposed lorry area.
They will now work to carry out the design phases before building the park once it is approved by the government.
It is proposed that 150 construction jobs will be created with the park "anticipated to be partially open" by next summer.
Balfour Beatty said they expect the early appointment will "minimise potential delays to the work starting on site once the location is finalised".
Leo Quinn, BB chief executive, said: "Balfour Beatty’s expertise in major infrastructure projects and long standing relationship with Highways England will be crucial for the safe and successful delivery of this project.
"The M20 lorry area will provide much needed relief to Kent’s road networks while supporting local economic growth and development."
Chancellor George Osborne announced a £250m funding package for a solution to Operation Stack in his Autumn Statement last year.
Highways England project manager Adrian Sheppard said: “We are pleased to appoint Balfour Beatty as our construction partner to work with us on a permanent lorry park in Kent in the months ahead.
"Operation Stack is only ever implemented as a last resort. We are working on plans for a new long-term solution that will ease congestion on local roads."
As part of today's announcement, Balfour Beatty said it would be increasing links with schools in the area and introduce six apprenticeship schemes.
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