Published: 13:11, 26 May 2022
| Updated: 16:03, 26 May 2022
Those travelling on Kent's roads in the coming days are being warned to prepare for 'one mass rush' as families attempt to escape for the combined half term break and long Jubilee weekend.
Unlike Easter where school holiday dates were staggered across the country, the Kent Resilience Forum says half term combined with the four-day bank holiday at the end of the same week has squeezed people's travel plans into one short and very specific time frame.
There are predictions that this evening, tomorrow and Saturday will see very heavy traffic on the county's roads as a huge numbers of holiday makers make their escape - with the majority expected to head for the Channel and across to Europe.
Large numbers of Liverpool fans are also expected to make their way through Kent en route to their team's game in Paris.
Toby Howe explained: "As the half term is only one week we are finding that all the schools break up at the same time. So it's one mass rush. Where as previously schools broke up at different times and we had a break down of that rush."
National Highways says it plans to lift more than 1,000 miles of roadworks in the next few days to enable motorists to enjoy smoother journeys as the country approach's next week's Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which officially start on Thursday, June 2.
Road chiefs hope to have 98% of England's major A roads and motorway networks free from works between Wednesday, June 1 and Monday, June 6 to help ease congestion.
But driving conditions in Kent are set to be impacted by the ongoing reduced P&O ferry capacity at Dover, which has resulted in Operation Brock being used on the M20 to manage the flow of trucks heading to Europe since April. As a result traffic controls also apply at Brenley Corner – at Junction 7 of the M2 at Faversham – to ensure EU-bound HGVs are returned to the motorway to re-join the Brock system.
Cross-channel services for Friday, Saturday and Sunday are already very busy, says the KRF, with turn-up and go tickets for May 27, 28 and 29 no longer available.
There are also concerns considerably large numbers of coaches are also going to begin arriving at ports and Eurotunnel terminals in the coming days, which could further slow down operations as all passengers must pass through passport checks.
The Kent Resilience Forum says very few coach trips ran through Kent during the Easter holidays but officials expert this time things will be different.
Toby Howe added: "The coaches is one of the big concerns because of course everybody on those coaches then needs to be checked and while the coach is being checked that delays the rest of the traffic going through.
"So we are expecting a big rush."
The advice from National Highways is for motorists to check their cars before setting off to avoid any potential for a breakdown that could have been avoided.
Dave Harford, traffic officer, said his teams expect the roads to be busy. He added: Our traffic officer patrols will be out on the network to help anyone who might get into difficulty, but it’s important people remember to check their vehicle before setting off.
"The last thing anybody wants on the way to their destination is to have a vehicle breakdown. That’s why it’s really important people spend a few minutes checking the condition of their tyres before setting off."
Looking ahead to next week, breakdown service Green Flag says it expects 834,000 cars are likely to hit the roads over the Platinum Jubilee weekend.
It is warning that with millions of people planning Jubilee street parties and community celebrations, drivers must be prepared for some unexpected road closures and changes to routes.
Mark Newberry, commercial director at Green Flag, said: "The upcoming Jubilee weekend is a great reason to celebrate and get together with neighbours, friends, and family. The extra day off means many of us will be planning trips away to make the most of the four-day weekend.
"We want to ensure everyone can enjoy the celebrations without any added stress or complications, so we’re urging drivers to check their route for any road closures and be aware of any obstructions or pedestrians that may be in the street."