Published: 07:00, 21 April 2017
The M2 should be widened between Sittingbourne and Faversham as a matter of urgency, a senior Swale council officer has warned.
Emma Wiggins, the authority’s interim director of regeneration, called for the upgrade in light of the announcement of the preferred route of a new Thames crossing.
An increase in traffic using the M2 and A249 has been predicted should the tunnel east of Gravesend be built, with lorries heading for Dover’s eastern docks directed along the M2 and A2.
Four lanes of traffic are squeezed into two from junction 4 at Gillingham and two dual-carriageways, the A299 and the A2, effectively become one at junction 7.
“We broadly welcome the announcement of the preferred route, which will address the lack of capacity on the road network crossing the Thames that has been stifling the regional economy,” said Ms Wiggins.
“By encouraging traffic to use the A2/M2 corridor there is now a renewed urgency to upgrade the M2 to cope with increased traffic along this stretch and to address issues at key junctions 5 and 7.”
“Widening the motorway – ideally up to junction 7 – is crucial if we want to avoid the situation where we are simply moving the current congestion problems further east.”
Changes are due to be made to the Stockbury Roundabout, one of the county’s worst locations for long queues of traffic, although Highways England’s timetable for the project has slipped.
Government funding of £100 million for junction 5 was announced in 2015, but publication of options for a new layout, due to have been early this year followed by a public consultation this spring, have been delayed until the autumn.
Alterations to improve congestion at Brenley Corner at Faversham have moved up the pecking order, although no funding is in place to carry out the work.
“Widening the motorway – ideally up to junction 7 – is crucial if we want to avoid the situation where we are simply moving the current congestion problems further east” - Emma Wiggins, Swale council
Ms Wiggins said both junctions needed to be improved.
“A reconfiguration of junction 7 must be a priority to address what is already a major pinch-point on the strategic highway network between the UK and the continent,” she said.
“With the A249 being one of only two dual carriageways connecting the M2/A2 and the M20 the need for the planned improvements to junction 5 are heightened, as well as proper consideration of improvements to the A249 itself.
“Forward planning of these necessary investments will not only help the flow of traffic through Kent but will also help facilitate growth across the sub-region.”
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