Published: 16:10, 18 September 2020
| Updated: 18:39, 18 September 2020
A £142 million overhaul of two major junctions has been revealed by transport bosses.
A month-long consultation has now been launched by KCC for three designs to revamp junctions on the A229 at the Maidstone end – junction 6 of the M20 – and the northern end on the edge of Medway – junction 3 of the M2.
The first design includes upgrading the Lord Lees and Taddington roundabouts at the M2 junction and removing the link between the Bridgewood and Lord Lees roundabouts.
A direct slip road between the A229 and the M2 towards London is proposed, a through lane from the coastbound M2 to the A229 as well as creating a separate left-turn lane from the M2 to the A229 and widening the link road to four lanes.
Changes have also been proposed at the Maidstone end including a two-lane slip road to join the coastbound M20, widening the Running Horse roundabout and adding traffic lights.
The second option proposes less work to the Lord Lees and Taddington roundabouts – but keeping the new London-bound slip road from the A229 and left-turn lane from the M2 – and a proposal to extend the Bridgewood roundabout and Rochester Road junction with a new slip road from the M2 which would continue straight onto the A229.
It would also see the south-bound slip road on the A229 to the Lord Lees roundabout closed with a new merge road creating access to the roundabout.
At the Maidstone end, option two would be the same as proposals under option one.
Under the third option, the Medway junction is the same as proposed under option two.
Major changes are being put forward for the M20 junction and the Running Horse and Cobtree roundabouts including an entirely new junction built across the M20.
New slip roads would be built and a new dual carriageway linking the junction with the Running Horse roundabout.
KCC says it will be submitting funding proposals to the government later this year once a final design has been agreed.
It has warned the cost of the project – which KCC hopes the Department for Transport (DfT) will fund 85% of – is "not fixed and could change as the scheme evolves over time".
A timeline has not been finalised but the council hopes to start work in summer 2024 with completion three years later ahead of the opening of the Lower Thames Crossing.
KCC cabinet member for highways and transport Michael Payne (Con) said: “Drivers on the A229 often experience heavy traffic and significant congestion and Kent Highways also have concerns around road safety.
“The congestion is likely to get worse with future housing development and the new Lower Thames Crossing. Hence we need to look at ways to improve reliability and reduce delays as well as improve road safety.
“Kent Highways has developed three options for improvements to address the current and future traffic issues at junctions on this route.
“We’d like your feedback on each of the three options to help determine which should be progressed or if a combination of ideas from across each of the options should be taken forward instead.”
"We need to look at ways to improve reliability and reduce delays as well as improve road safety"
Blue Bell Hill is one of the busiest roads in the county with more than 68,000 vehicles using it every day.
The junctions are often overloaded with traffic and KCC expects to see more than 62,000 new homes in Medway, Maidstone and Tonbridge and Malling built by 2031.
The council also anticipates the new Lower Thames Crossing taking traffic away from Dartford increasing the demand on Blue Bell Hill by 1,000 vehicles per day.
It is also one of the heaviest crash hotspots in the county.
In the five years between 2014 and 2019, there were 309 incidents including two fatal crashes, 38 serious and 269 minor collisions.
The consultation – available online and in hard copy – will run until Monday, October 19.
Visit www.kent.gov.uk/a229bluebellhill for more or email A229bluebellhill@kent.gov.uk or phone 03000 421437 for paper copies.