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M2 closure uncertainty following weekend of misery - but traffic could be sent on 69-mile diversion route

Motorists are bracing themselves for the misery of more weekend closures on the M2 - but confusion now surrounds the roadworks and a planned 69-mile diversion route.

Thousands of drivers suffered hold-ups as long as six hours as the motorway was shut London-bound between junction 7 at Faversham and the junction 5 turn-off for Maidstone for resurfacing.

Brenley Corner roundabout was turned into a “car park” and queues stretched as far back as Upper Harbledown on the A2 as the M2 was closed from 8pm on Friday to 6am on Monday.

Drivers were stuck at a standtill for hours. Pic: Phil Day (13782482)
Drivers were stuck at a standtill for hours. Pic: Phil Day (13782482)

Despite the chaos, the same closures were set to be implemented across the next two weekends, but Highways England says it is yet to confirm a revised plan.

But it is thought the road will remain open on Friday and Saturday this week - unless road bosses decide traffic is quiet and work can go ahead on the Saturday as planned.

If not, the road will be closed from Saturday night to 4.30am on Monday, instead of 6am.

It is thought motorists will still be sent on a 69-mile diversion to Dover, along the A20 and back up the M20, despite roadworks on the A2 in Faversham being postponed because of last weekend’s chaos.

It is not known what the knock-on effect of a revised plan will be on future closures, but such indecisiveness is likely to frustrate motorists who endured nightmare journeys.

The diversion route is now 69 miles in length
The diversion route is now 69 miles in length

Disgruntled drivers blamed the traffic nightmare on a lack of preparation between Highways England and Kent County Council, and complained they had little warning of the closures.

The closures have been branded “dangerous” by Helen Whately MP, who has questioned why the M2 resurfacing work was being carried out at the same time as the roadworks on the A2.

“I was stuck in traffic for two hours on Saturday so I know how frustrating these closures are,” she said.

“It’s not just inconvenient - it’s terrible for businesses at the one of the busiest times of year, and even dangerous if ambulances can’t get to hospital.

“I find it difficult to understand why these closures are happening right on the back of roadworks on the A2 and in the middle of the tourism season.

“I’ve written to Highways England and Kent County Council asking why they didn’t coordinate their plans better and why the closures can’t take place at night.”

Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield also wants to avoid a repeat of last weekend.

Faversham MP Helen Whately
Faversham MP Helen Whately

She has written to the Secretary of State for Transport calling on Chris Grayling MP to provide assurances that the havoc on the roads will not continue.

If Highways England sticks to the original plan, the M2 will also be shut overnight between 8pm and 6am from Monday, July 22, to Thursday, July 25, and on Monday, July 29.

Organisers of the Oyster Festival in Whitstable, which runs from July 27-29, have advised visitors not to drive and to use public transport.

DIVERSION ROUTE

If the motorway resurfacing work is carried out, London-bound drivers will have to face a lengthy diversion route which now stands at 69 miles.

Last weekend's diversion along the A251, A252 to Charing, and the A20 has been ditched following Saturday's chaos.

Now, in what would normally be a 12-mile drive, motorists at Brenley Corner who cannot go up the M2, are advised to head coastbound on the A2 past Canterbury and Lydden.

The authority wants drivers to come off the A2 at Dover and make their way onto the A20, which leads onto the speed-and-lane-reduced M20.

Heading up to junction 7 of the M20, the lengthy diversion route then heads onto the A249 and finally to junction 5 for the M2 at Stockbury.

Avoid getting stuck on Kent's roads by keeping up-to-date on all of the latest traffic and travel news here or by following our live blog.

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