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Multi-million pound grant to ease traffic congestion

By Alan Smith

The County Town is to receive a multi-million pound grant to ease traffic congestion.

The £15.4m package from the Government’s arranged through the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SE LEP) will enable Kent County Council to press ahead with plans to reshape the town’s gyratory system, a long-standing traffic blackspot.

The grant includes £4.56m specifically towards creating two additional northbound lanes along the A229, enabling northbound traffic heading towards Chatham to bypass the existing gyratory system.

Traffic approaching the town's gyratory system

With less traffic crossing and re-crossing on the town’s bridges, it is hoped that congestion on the west side of the River Medway will also be eased.

However, KCC will have to find the other £1.14m needed to make up the total £5.7m estimated cost.

A further £8.9m grant money is allocated to a series of junction, public transport and highways improvements across the town put forward in the authority’s integrated transport strategy. Again KCC will have to find the balance of the cost - another £6.9m.

A final £2m is set aside for creating cycle paths along the river Medway between Aylesford and East Farleigh to promote sustainable transport to work. KCC will need to find £1m towards this project.

Traffic congestion on the one-way system

KCC leader Paul Carter, said: “This is good news.

“As we come out of recession, housing growth will accelerate and commerce will increase. These schemes will help support that growth.”

The Maidstone projects could start as early as 2015 and be completed by 2017.

Tonbridge and Malling will also benefit with a grant of £2.19m towards an eastern overbridge at Junction 4 of the M20, at Larkfield, and £2.37m towards improving roads in Tonbridge town centre.

Tunbridge Wells will get £1.75m to improve the A26 London Road junction with Speldhurst Road and Yew Tree Road.

The grant is part of a £442m package across the South East that will also see £5.9m for a new road link at Sturry Road in Canterbury, and £10m for a new parkway station in Thanet.

Geoff Miles, the vice chairman of SE LEP, said: ““Today’s funding announcement heralds intensive investment in transport improvements for the south east – and a powerful new working relationship with the Government.

“In addition to major transport investment in Kent and Medway, the Government has also confirmed funding for a Kent & Medway Growth Hub, which will provide innovative support services to help local businesses to expand and prosper.”

The Maidstone projects could start as early as 2015 and be completed by 2017.

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