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Dover TAP introduced to manage port traffic again and here is what it means


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As freight traffic builds at the Port of Dover, the town's Traffic Access Protocol known as Dover TAP, has once again been implemented and here is what it means.

The scheme on the A20 at Aycliffe is often brought in when there is a risk of congestion in the town centre because of high volumes of lorries looking to cross the Channel into Europe.

This is what Dover TAP looks like. Picture: UKNIP
This is what Dover TAP looks like. Picture: UKNIP

It was first introduced in 2015 as a way of preventing port bound traffic disrupting the local road network.

While Dover TAP is on, a 40mph speed restriction, which applies to all vehicles approaching Dover via the A20, is introduced.

Lorry drivers are asked to remain in the left lane of the A20, from the Roundhill Tunnel, and queue until they reach the port.

The right hand lane is then left clear for local traffic to enter the town without lengthy delays.

At peak times, lorries queuing in the left lane will be held by traffic lights at the entry to Dover until space at the port becomes available.

It is monitored by police. Picture: UKNIP
It is monitored by police. Picture: UKNIP
Dover TAP has been in place since 2015. Picture: UKNIP
Dover TAP has been in place since 2015. Picture: UKNIP

Lay-bys in the area also get closed, as does the coastbound on-slip at the Courtwood junction on some occasions.

If a lorry tries to skip the queue or uses the right hand lane, the driver will be turned back and asked to join the end of the queue.

Police and cameras help monitor and enforce this.

Drivers also risk being prosecuted if they exceed the 40mph speed limit, use their horn while stationary, if they exit their cab, or throw rubbish onto the carriageway.

Further down the M20, between Junction 8 for Maidstone and Junction 9 for Ashford, another traffic management scheme is implemented at times of cross-Channel disruption.

Operation Brock on the M20 at junction 9. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Operation Brock on the M20 at junction 9. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Operation Brock sees a concrete barrier set up in the middle of the London-bound carriageway of the M20 splitting it into two.

It allows lorries heading to Dover to use the coastbound carriageway while all other traffic is restricted to the contraflow system on the opposite side.

The difference between Brock and TAP is that TAP is used on a regular basis because of the sheer volume of freight traffic heading into Dover.

Operation Brock on the other hand is used when cross-Channel disruption is expected.

For example, the government first introduced the contraflow in 2020 in anticipation of disruption at the end of the Brexit transition period.

The moveable concrete barrier is usually kept on the hard shoulder of the 15-mile stretch until it needs to be deployed; however drivers face a year of disruption as National Highways plans to shift it to the central reservation.

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