Published: 08:43, 28 April 2022
| Updated: 14:49, 28 April 2022
Work to remove Ashford's Orbital Park roundabout has been postponed again due to Operation Brock – sparking fears the project will run beyond its estimated completion date.
Highways bosses were initially set to reduce a 0.8-mile stretch of the A2070 Bad Munstereifel Road to a single lane in both directions after the Easter weekend as part of the ‘Bellamy Gurner’ scheme.
But given the disruption on the M20, National Highways asked contractors to hold off – and then pushed back the works again this week following a review.
Contractors are now set to start removing the roundabout next month, with six weeks of lane closures needed between the Orbital Park and Cloverleaf roundabouts.
Ashford Borough Council deputy leader Cllr Paul Bartlett (Con) is concerned the hold-ups will lead to more traffic chaos later in the year.
“I am very worried about the delays because the project should be completed by September,” he said.
“The risk is that if highways keep allowing them to defer it then there must come a point when they run the risk of not getting it completed by then.
“September is important because that is when the schools go back.
“My understanding is that the bulk of the disruption will be during the summer holidays.
“That’s bad for holidaymakers trying to get to Lydd and other places but it would mean it would be completed before September.
“I think we need to swallow the disruption and let them get on with it.”
Ashford MP Damian Green agrees, saying he is keen to see the project progress.
He said: “We can’t hold off for too long, because what is to say another crisis will not happen that will bring Brock back?
“My instinct would be to wait until after May Day, and then get on with it.”
The scheme, which first surfaced in the early 2000s, is being funded by Finberry housebuilder Crest Nicholson, with a traffic light-controlled junction replacing the roundabout.
A Crest Nicholson spokesman said: “National Highways has confirmed that our planned works are to be deferred until early May due to works in relation to Operation Brock being finalised.
“Pending project approvals, we will be able to give better clarity on anticipated completion dates.
“In the meantime, we will work closely with National Highways and Kent County Council to manage and mitigate any potential traffic disruptions.”
The Operation Brock contraflow on the M20 will stay in place until at least after the May Day Bank Holiday, highways bosses confirmed last week.