A movable concrete barrier on the M20 that can be set up "within hours" to keep Kent’s roads moving at times of cross-channel disruption will be on standby from later this year, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced today (Monday 17 February).
Once a specialist vehicle is in place, Highways England will be able to deploy the barrier, helping ensure minimum disruption to traffic.
The idea will be a "marked improvement to Operation Brock", a government spokesman said, which required a month of overnight closures to deploy the metal barrier for a contraflow system.
The technology is designed to ensure that the M20 is kept open at times of disruption, while also allowing the motorway to retain three lanes, a hard shoulder and 70mph speed limits in both directions during normal traffic conditions.
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The new solution also means that Highways England’s work on an ‘off-road’ replacement for Operation Stack has been scrapped.
Previous Highways England plans for a new large lorry holding area in Kent are no longer being pursued.
“After listening to frustrated residents and businesses affected by Operations Brock and Stack, we’ve invested in a new solution to boost Kent’s resilience and keep its vital road network moving, even at times of disruption," Schapps explained.
“This state-of-the-art technology can be deployed quickly, simply and safely, ensuring motorists across the county can get to where they need to be with minimum fuss, whatever the circumstances.”
Moveable barriers are already used in cities around the world, including Auckland, Sydney, San Francisco and Vancouver.
The spokesman added that the technology has been chosen as a long-term solution to Operation Brock and Stack and will ensure Kent is prepared for any disruption on the Short Strait, such as from industrial action or bad weather.