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Drivers angry at 'huge dip' at junction in Newtown Road, Ashford

By Charlie Harman

A "huge dip" at a junction which was shut for eight months is forcing Stagecoach to use smaller buses on a main route through Ashford.

Contractors shut Newtown Road at the junction with the A2042 Romney Marsh Road last April to remove two roundabouts and fit traffic lights instead.

But Stagecoach has been forced to replace larger single-deck buses with smaller ones as drivers found their vehicles were scraping along the tarmac.

The "huge dip" at the Newtown Road junction has been criticised
The "huge dip" at the Newtown Road junction has been criticised

Jean Ifield - who lives in Canterbury Road, Willesborough - described the junction as a "rollercoaster".

She said: “I regularly drive from Newtown Road to Victoria Way.

“The right-hand exit at the lights is a disgrace and dangerous - it is like a rollercoaster.

“Firstly you are dropped into a hole, and then forced over to the other side of the road.

“Hopefully you are in control of your vehicle as you are then taken back over towards the central reservation.”

The works were part of the £90million expansion of the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, which will see 50 new shops added to the site when it opens in the autumn.

Traffic lights replaced two roundabouts at the busy junction
Traffic lights replaced two roundabouts at the busy junction

Stagecoach spokesman Matt Maytum says the firm is in discussions with Kent County Council Highways about the junction.

He said: “The issue has affected the type of bus we are able to use on route G, which means that we have to use smaller vehicles with reduced capacity causing some inconvenience to passengers at busy peak times.

“We are hopeful a solution will be found very soon.”

Cllr David Smith, ward member for South Willesborough, fears drivers could lose control at the junction in bad weather.

He said: “The junction is beautifully laid out but there are certainly concerns.

“I was pleased with the layout but when you come out of Newtown and turn right into town, there’s a huge dip in level.

Stagecoach has pulled its larger single-deck from route G. Picture: Joshua Houselander
Stagecoach has pulled its larger single-deck from route G. Picture: Joshua Houselander

“I had a meeting with the manager of the Designer Outlet and I brought up the point that people going fast could well have an accident if their car goes light.

“With the bad weather coming up, it could get quite icy and drivers could slide.

“I said that if they are to keep it like that, warning signs should be put up.

This smaller model is now employed on route G
This smaller model is now employed on route G

“A member of KCC Highways came down to look at it, and his primary concern was the buses.

“He was satisfied they could go over and they have approved it."

Cllr Smith was also aware of concerns about the new pedestrian crossing close to the traffic lights.

He said: “The other thing which has been raised by residents is the new crossing from the Designer Outlet area because it has no lighting.

"The right-hand exit at the lights is a disgrace and dangerous - it is like a rollercoaster" - Jean Ifield

“I have also been told that because of all the hoardings, there’s no line of sight from the Newtown bridge.

“I’ve been told it’s like taking your life in your hands and residents have to run to cross.

“I think there needs to be more traffic-calming measures put in.”

A spokeswoman for Ashford Designer Outlet, which partly funded the works, said: “The Newtown Road improvement works were completed by Walkers Construction, who were appointed by McLaren.

“All improvement works were carried out to the specifications of Kent Highways and signed off by them before the road could reopen.”

In April, drivers are set to face another closure of Newtown Road when the stretch is closed for traffic-calming measures.

KentOnline revealed last year that it is due to be shut for 10 weeks.

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