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Return of Operation Brock M20 contraflow between Ashford and Maidstone to cost £55.1 million

The impending return of the dreaded Operation Brock contraflow system on the M20 will cost a mammoth £55 million, it has been revealed.

Highways England has awarded contracts to Lindsay Transportation Solutions and Balfour Beatty to carry out work on the 15-mile stretch between Junction 8 for Leeds Castle and Junction 9 for Ashford .

The cost of the return of Operation Brock has been revealed
The cost of the return of Operation Brock has been revealed

Dubbed a system which will "keep disruption to a minimum", a moveable concrete barrier is to be installed and become operational in December - in anticipation of disruption once the Brexit transition period ends.

A £21.3m contract for supplying the barrier has been given to Lindsay Transportation Solutions, while Balfour Beatty, at a cost of £21.8m, has been tasked with carrying out the works.

While the tendered costs total £43.1m, Highways England says the figure for the overall project comes in at £55.1m.

Once up-and-running, the barrier, which road chiefs say can be installed within hours thanks to a specialist ‘zipper’ machine, will result in a 50mph speed limit.

But before the barrier becomes operational in December, the moveable concrete blocks will need to be stored on the hard shoulder.

A 'zipper' machine will be used to install the moveable barrier
A 'zipper' machine will be used to install the moveable barrier

To safely get them in place on the hard shoulder, a separate steel barrier to protect workers will need to be temporarily installed from September to November.

The temporary steel barrier will act as a blockade to protect workers while they place the building blocks of the other barrier in a holding area.

All of this means the London-bound stretch will be reduced to two lanes with a 50mph limit.

Highways bosses say the safety barrier will "gradually be moved up" the motorway as sections of the work are completed and is expected to move along the carriageway once every two weeks.

During the works, the coastbound M20 will remain open, but a 60mph limit restriction will be in place.

The M20 has rarely been a usual 70mph motorway in recent years
The M20 has rarely been a usual 70mph motorway in recent years

A Highways England spokesman says the new barrier will be allow the contraflow to be deployed and removed as and when required, resulting in less disruption.

They said: "The new moveable barrier will have the benefits of Operation Brock and will keep traffic flowing in both directions on the M20 at times of cross channel disruption, while allowing the M20 motorway to retain three lanes, a hard shoulder and 70mph speed limits in both directions during normal traffic conditions.

"Once the specialist vehicle is in place, the new barrier can be deployed and removed much more quickly compared to the previous solution which took over a month to deploy.

"This will keep disruption to a minimum and work to install the new moveable barrier will begin on September 1."

Earlier this month, the government launched a consultation on Operation Brock.

The consultation period runs until midnight tomorrow (Sunday).

Visit www.gov.uk to take part in an online survey or email OperationBrockSIs@dft.gov.uk

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