Published: 08:00, 10 July 2014
| Updated: 08:02, 10 July 2014
Maidstone is to get a £15.4 million grant to ease traffic congestion.
It 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 traffic heading towards Chatham to bypass the existing system, which is estimated will cut journey times through the town by 10%.
With less traffic crossing and re-crossing the town’s bridges, it is hoped that congestion on the west side of the River Medway, such as St Peter’s Street, will also be eased.
However, KCC will have to find the other £1.14m needed to make up the £5.7m estimated cost.
A total of £8.9m has also been allocated to a series of junctions, 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.
The remaining £2m from the government package, arranged through the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, has been set aside to create cycle paths along the River Medway between Aylesford and East Farleigh.
KCC will need to find £1m to fund it.
The projects could start as early as next year and be completed by 2017.
KCC leader Paul Carter said: “This is good news. As we come out of recession, housing growth will accelerate and commerce will increase.”
Maidstone council leader Cllr Annabelle Blackmore agreed, saying: “The bridge gyratory system is a major source of irritation for many drivers on a daily basis.
“These improvements will bring significant reductions in travel times for our residents and businesses.”
Cllr David Burton, Maidstone’s cabinet member for planning and transport, suggested the money could support the borough’s house-building programme.
“These improvements will bring significant reductions in travel times for our residents and businesses" - Cllr Annabelle Blackmore
He said: “We are working really closely with KCC to get the an Integrated Transport Strategy ready to support our emerging Local Plan.
“It is a challenging task but with KCC support we are confident that we will be addressing many of the concerns that were expressed during the recent public consultation.’’
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.
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