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M20 Smart Motorway diversion should be via A2 and M2, MP Tom Tugendhat tells Highways England

A diversion route plaguing households with traffic noise overnight should be moved onto a motorway, an MP has suggested.

People living along the A20 London Road in Ryarsh and West Malling were disturbed last month when overnight closures on the M20 saw diverted vehicles rushing past their doors between 8pm and 6am.

The weight of traffic coupled with scorching heat resulted in Ryarsh parish councillor Caroline Martin leaving her bedroom to sleep in a cabin in her garden.

Caroline Martin with son Loris outside their cabin Picture: Andy Jones
Caroline Martin with son Loris outside their cabin Picture: Andy Jones

Cllr Martin said: “It was awful.

“The diversion was during the heatwave but we couldn’t open the windows for the sound.”

Speaking earlier this month, the mother-of-three said: “I’ve been having a lot of emails from locals saying they can’t cope any more.

“Some even want to move.”

There has been a change since people raised concerns.

Caroline Martin with son Loris beside London Road, Ryarsh Picture: Andy Jones
Caroline Martin with son Loris beside London Road, Ryarsh Picture: Andy Jones

Cllr Martin said: “Since the KM article was published on August 1, the traffic has completely gone. It’s quieter than ever.

“It’s almost like Highways England was trying to get away with it until someone complained.”

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat met with Highways England chiefs to discuss the diversion route and other problems on the Smart Motorway scheme.

Mr Tugendhat said: “Though it might not always look it, work is continuing quickly and they are on course to complete it before March 2020.

“However, Highways England was left in no doubt that the impact of the M20 closures is severe and it needed to do more to ensure that it manages the impact better. I have asked them and Kent County Council, who maintain the A20, whether they would consider marking the A2 and M2 as the official diversion route to give respite to communities affected during the next set of overnight closures.

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat
Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat

“Highways England have also confirmed that all lanes of the motorway will be resurfaced with quieter resurfacing material. This will mean that the noise of the traffic will be reduced by more than two decibels in many areas, contributing to noise reduction which will be very welcome.

“Many of the trees which were cut down last year will be replaced by semi-mature species, rather than saplings, so they have a more immediate impact in terms of reducing noise.”

The next set of overnight closures look set to be in October.

The M20 will be shut coastbound overnight between Junction 3 for Borough Green and 4 for Leybourne.

Despite calls to change its diversion route to the A2 and M2, Highways England looks set to stand firm.

A spokesman from the roads agency said: “We are working very hard to be a good neighbour while we upgrade the M20 to a smart motorway. When the motorway is closed overnight we direct traffic via the nearby A20.

“We’ve chosen this route as it is the most suitable for the type and volume of traffic that uses the M20.

“The route has been agreed with Kent County Council and the police. We appreciate that living near a busy construction site is not easy and we are grateful for people’s patience while we deliver this upgrade for the M20.

“We will continue to listen to feedback from customers, stakeholders and our own teams so that we can communicate any changes well in advance.”

Parish councillor Caroline Martin speaks about the problems

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