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M20 closed between junctions 4 and 6 until Monday for footbridge removal

A four-mile stretch of the M20 is closed in both directions and will not reopen until Monday.

Highways England shut the road at 10pm last night between junctions 4 (Leybourne) and 6 (Blue Bell Hill) to allow for a footbridge removal.

Contractors are dismantling the Teapot Lane bridge near Aylesford station as part of a project to turn the stretch into a smart motorway.

Teapot Lane footbridge will be replaced with a steel bridge in November
Teapot Lane footbridge will be replaced with a steel bridge in November

The bulk of the bridge is expected to be removed early this morning, with the rest of the demolition lasting until early Monday morning.

Both carriageways will reopen by 5am on Monday.

Until the bridge's replacement in November, pedestrians will have to walk via Station Road bridge to reach Aylesford School, Aylesford Primary School and Aylesford Station.

Teapot Lane footbridge crosses the M20 in Aylesford
Teapot Lane footbridge crosses the M20 in Aylesford

Highways England is spending £92million creating a smart motorway between junction 3 of the M20 (Borough Green) to junction 5 (Aylesford).

The scheme will replace hard shoulders on both carriageways with an extra lane of traffic, while also installing cameras and emergency stop areas.

Project manager Kam Kaluba said: "Taking down the bridgedeck means once we reconstruct the bridge we will have a full length of traffic on the M20.

Highways England confirmed the closure (4186409)
Highways England confirmed the closure (4186409)

"If we leave it as it is then we're unable to operate the smart motorway to its fullest, particularly on the London-bound carriageway.

"This bridge currently is tall enough to accommodate three lengths of traffic, we're going to increase it by just under 0.75m London-bound just to make sure we've got enough headroom to allow the hard shoulder to be turned into a permanent running lane."

Teapot Lane footbridge was supposed to have been demolished and replaced with a new steel structure in time for the new school year.

But Highways England scrapped those plans when it realised it's original weekend closure coincided with the start of the summer break.

Mr Kaluba said: "The positive was we had less disruption to people who were on holiday travelling to and from Dover.

"It was disappointing in the sense had we undertaken the works as planned the new bridge would have been opened in time for the local schools.

"The schools have been very understanding and we have managed to explain to them the mitigation measures for parents travelling to and from school across the M20."

Despite the delay, bosses still expect construction on the smart motorway scheme to be complete by March 2020.

Teapot Lane footbridge will be replaced from November 9 to November 12, when another weekend closure will be in place on the same stretch of M20.

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