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'Brexit barriers' to be installed on M20 this weekend

By John Nurden

Highways chiefs say are using "lessons learned" from Operation Stack to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.

Work on installing the temporary steel 'Brexit barriers' along the coastbound carriageway of the M20 begins this weekend, which will lead to the introduction of a 50mph speed limit along an eight-mile stretch.

Planners have revealed more details about the timings of the works, saying the barriers will let lorries travelling to Europe flow free and keep traffic disruption to Kent to a minimum.

Eight miles of the M20 will have a 50mph limit from next week

Overnight roadworks start on Saturday at 8pm, with the M20 closed between Ashford at junction 9 and Maidstone at junction 7 until 6am.

The work is expected to last until the middle of March.

From next Tuesday, there will be narrow lanes and a 50mph speed limit during the day along the eight-mile stretch of motorway, which will almost certainly lead to delays.

During the night closures, motorists will be diverted along the A20.

Highways England is warning drivers to allow more time for their journeys.

Operation Stack between junction 9 and 10 of the M20 in 2015. Picture: Gary Browne
Operation Stack between junction 9 and 10 of the M20 in 2015. Picture: Gary Browne

Motorists in Kent faced huge disruption during the summer of 2015, when Operation Stack was in force for more than 30 days due to disruption at the ports caused by strikes in Calais.

Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “The steps we are putting in place on the M20 are based on our extensive experience of working with partners to keep the road network in this region operating safely and reliable.

“They incorporate the lessons learned from our experience of Operation Stack in 2015 and techniques from our major construction schemes in other parts of the country.

"They will make a significant difference to reducing the congestion and disruption to both the M20 itself and the wider road network and people of Kent.”

The arrangement is part of Operation Brock, which also includes stacking lorries on the M26 and at Manston airfield in Thanet to reduce delays at the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone and the Port of Dover.

A spokesman said: "Highways England is working in close partnership with Kent Police, Kent County Council and the Department for Transport to ensure each phase of Operation Brock can be deployed sequentially and scaled up or down to meet demand.

"These new arrangements offer a significant improvement to Operation Stack and, crucially, keep the M20 open to traffic in both directions in all but the most extreme circumstances."

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