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Steel barrier and 50mph limit on M20 set to stay for months despite Operation Brock being lifted

By Paul Francis

A steel barrier and 50mph limit on the M20 is set to stay in place for months - even though the Operation Brock contraflow has been lifted.

Highways England says it will need "a high level of confidence" no disruption is expected before it removes the barrier, which restricts the London-bound stretch between junctions 8 for Leeds Castle and 9 for Ashford to just two narrow lanes.

But motorists claim the motorway is unsafe and say the steelwork - which bosses say would take about four weeks to remove - should be taken out immediately.

The barrier is still in place on the London-bound carriageway
The barrier is still in place on the London-bound carriageway

County councillor Rob Bird, opposition Liberal Democrat leader on Kent County Council, says he continues to believe the arrangement is dangerous.

"It is good to see the Operation Brock contraflow on the M20 removed and everyone hopes it will never be needed," he said.

"But it is extremely disappointing that Highways England has left the steel barrier in place down the middle of the carriageway.

Operation Brock was lifted on Monday
Operation Brock was lifted on Monday

"This means London-bound traffic remains restricted to two narrow lanes.

"Moreover, because there are no run-off areas and no warnings of obstructions ahead, this stretch of motorway is still very dangerous."

"Because there are no run-off areas and no warnings of obstructions ahead, this stretch of motorway is still very dangerous" - Cllr Rob Bird

Operation Brock - which was intended to tackle queues created by delays at the border following a no-deal Brexit - had been in place for three weeks.

The coastbound stretch was used only by HGVs heading to Dover, with all other traffic restricted to the contraflow system on the opposite carriageway.

On Monday, the three coastbound lanes reopened but the steel barrier remains in place on the London-bound stretch although Brexit has been delayed until October 30.

The steel barrier on the M20
The steel barrier on the M20

A spokesman said: "The barrier takes about four weeks to put out and four weeks to take in again, and has significant time, expense and roadworks implications.

"We and our partners would need a high level of confidence that there is no disruption expected over this time period to be able to remove the barrier completely."

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