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Disruption for motorists and pedestrians as footbridge removal closes M20

By Luke May

A footbridge crossing the M20 has closed ahead of its demolition this weekend.

From 10pm tonight a four mile stretch of the M20, between junctions four (Leybourne) and six (Blue Bell Hill) will close in both directions throughout the weekend to accommodate the bridge removal.

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

Teapot Lane footbridge will be replaced with a steel bridge in November (4166013)
Teapot Lane footbridge will be replaced with a steel bridge in November (4166013)

Both carriageways will have reopened 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 (4166017)
Teapot Lane footbridge crosses the M20 in Aylesford (4166017)

The diversion adds around 10 minutes to journeys.

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

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

Highways England project manager Kam Kaluba (4166011)
Highways England project manager Kam Kaluba (4166011)

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.

"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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