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M20: Five months of delays as bridge replacement works begin

Motorists face five months of motorway delays, lane closures and 50mph speed limits as plans to replace a collapsed footbridge are revealed.

The East Street footbridge over the M20 at Addington was struck by a lorry carrying a digger between Junctions 4, for Leybourne, and 3, for Borough Green and the M26.

Around £1.5m worth of damage was caused on August 27, 2016, and Highways England has now given the green light for a replacement pedestrian bridge to be installed.

An aerial view of the scene. Picture: NPAS Redhill
An aerial view of the scene. Picture: NPAS Redhill

The crash, on the bank holiday Saturday, brought 170 tonnes of concrete onto the London-bound carriageway when the route was being used by millions of drivers.

Motorcyclist Jim Shaw, 73, escaped with minor injuries after skidding sideways at 70mph beneath the falling debris on the motorway.

The bridge also crushed two lorries, a Hitachi excavator and a lorry and trailer, both worth £150,000.

The work is expected to begin at the end of October or the beginning of November and is due to last for five months.

Alan Austen, from Darlington, was charged with one count of dangerous driving and another count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and will stand trial at Maidstone Crown Court in February having denied both.

A closeup of damage caused to a pedestrian footbridge on the M20
A closeup of damage caused to a pedestrian footbridge on the M20

The new bridge covers the same footprint as the old one and some of the existing foundations will be re-used.

In order to carry out the works A-one+, the contractors behind the build, will implement lane closures and 24/7 speed restrictions of 50mph along with closures of hard shoulders and slip roads.

Closures planned include lane one from the M26 onto the M20 on the coast- bound carriageway and the hard shoulder of the M20 London-bound and coast-bound from J4 to J2.

Full closures will be in place when the new bridge is lifted into place.

Diversions for drivers wishing to continue their journey along the M20 coast bound carriageway will be diverted off the M20 at J2 and will use the A20 London Road instead.

London bound traffic will be diverted off the second exit onto the A228.

A Highways England spokesman confirmed works are planned for the winter.

She said: "Plans are well under way to design and build a new footbridge to replace the East Street bridge, which spans the M20 near Maidstone and collapsed after a lorry collision during the bank holiday weekend of August 2016.

“We have carried out ground engineering and surveys, which didn’t have any impact on the M20, and are now finalising designs for the new bridge.

“Once designs have been completed, we will start to demolish of the old ramps and then build the new piers. We will require narrow lanes and a temporary 50mph speed limit on the M20 for safety reasons to do this, as we will work very close to the carriageway.

"Main construction for the footbridge is planned to start this winter and will carry on until Easter.

“We will keep road users informed in advance of work starting so they can plan ahead.”

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