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Junction 10a on M20 in Ashford to open in September 2019, Highways England reveals

A multi-million pound motorway junction is set to open to traffic in September, it has been confirmed.

Work to build junction 10a on the M20 - which is being constructed just 700 metres away from the current junction 10 in Ashford - began in February.

Now highways bosses say motorists will be able to use the £104m junction for the first time in September.

How the site looks
How the site looks

Project manager Tom Selby from Highways England is satisfied with the plan's progress.

He said: "Junction 10a is going well, we're just in the winter season so we're continuing earthworks while the weather is pretty good.

"We're making good headway and preparing for a key milestone in lifting the bridge beams in over a series of weekend closures.

Watch to find out more about the roadworks

"Obviously weather is a key element to this and also Brexit, so we have plans in place should either of them come to eventuality and affect us."

Mr Selby added that despite minor setbacks, he says "the programme's been recovered so we're still on track and on budget".

Although the junction will open this September, construction work is due to continue until summer 2020.

The new junction 10a on the M20
The new junction 10a on the M20

A Highways England spokesman said: "Following the open for traffic milestone there will still be a contractor presence as we complete snagging works and landscaping – this will take us to project completion in summer 2020.

"However, road users will feel all the benefits from September."

Last year, it emerged roadworks on a number of main routes in Kent will be halted before and after the UK's departure from the European Union.

Tom Selby, Highways England’s project manager for the M20 Junction 10a works
Tom Selby, Highways England’s project manager for the M20 Junction 10a works

Highways bosses informed utility companies that planned roadworks across the county cannot be carried out between February 1 and April 30 in order to ease pressure on the road network.

Eleven routes will become 'roadwork free' to help minimise disruption to roads after in the months leading up to and after Brexit, but junction 10a will continue.

Mr Selby said: "It almost definitely will be affected (by Brexit), but there's a Kent Corridor Coordination Group where all the projects come together to discuss the sequencing and delays that Brexit brings with it so we are ready for it."

The site this week
The site this week

Junction 10a is one of Ashford Borough Council's Big 8 schemes - eight key developments aimed at improving the town's facilities and promoting cultural and economic opportunities in the borough.

The spokesman added: "The creation of the new junction is a £104m project that will unlock job-creating developments, improve journeys, and open the door to further inward economic investment for communities along the M20.

"It will also relieve pressure of the existing junction 10, reducing congestion on both the M20 and local roads."

'We're making good headway and preparing for a key milestone in lifting the bridge beams in over a series of weekend closures...' - Tom Selby

A long stretch of the M20 will be closed in both directions this weekend to allow for the installation of a new bridge at junction 10a.

Meanwhile, the colour of footbridges included in the junction 10a scheme has sparked controversy.

The first of the two - the Kingsford Street bridge - was put in place in November during an overnight M20 closure.

The 'rather green' Kingsford Street bridge
The 'rather green' Kingsford Street bridge

But at an ABC joint transportation board meeting in December, the committee's chairman Cllr Paul Bartlett questioned Highways England's choice of green paint.

The Conservative councillor said: "I see the bridge has gone up with its very splendid looks but it is also very green.

"I guess that's it, isn't it? Do you plan to paint it a more amenable colour?

"I know it is all in the eye of the beholder but it is rather green."

KentOnline can now reveal the second footbridge - which will be replace the Church Road footbridge over the A2070 which was demolished in June - will be the same green.

Mr Selby said: "I don't particularly see any faults with the colour.

"In the winter it sticks out a bit, but in summer it will blend in with the vegetation."

Mr Selby says a new roundabout - which will connect the A2070 with a new two-way link road leading to the new M20 junction - is set to be fully operational at the same time as junction 10a in September.

The roundabout is being built close to Sevington church.

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