Plans have been unveiled which aim to reduce traffic, and its impact, for residents and businesses in Kent in the event of Channel disruption, by the Roads Minister, Jesse Norman.
“Operation Stack” will allow for traffic to travel in both directions between junctions 8 and 9 while lorries are being queued for the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel, meaning drivers can access these junctions, without being diverted to smaller roads.
The idea is to introduce a contraflow on the northbound carriageway, to be used if there is ever disruption to cross-Channel traffic resulting in lorries being queued, available for use from early 2019.
Plans are also being set out by the Department for Transport to improve overnight lorry parking, leaving fewer lorries left on local roads or parked in lay-bys overnight.
Roads Minister Jesse Norman said “We’ve seen the severe disruption which the people in Jent had to face in 2015 when there were hold ups across the Channel. This interim plan will help to minimise that disruption and mean people will be able to go about their everyday lives, seeing friends and family or going to work, as well as businesses being able to get to their customers.”
Highways England will shortly be launching a public consultation, looking to find a permanent solution to Operation Stack. This will include asking residents, businesses and the freight industry what they would like to see from any solution – including an on-road solution or an off-road lorry park.
Highways England will also start work to improve the northbound hard shoulder of the M20, allowing for two-way traffic to be contained within one carriageway, enabling the road to remain open.
Schemes like the Dover Traffic Access Protocol (TAP), which sees lorries held outside the port town, instead of clogging up the town centre, and more holding spaces at the port are helping to prevent many instances of Operation Stack being called since 2015’s events.
The Department for Transport have are highlighting the areas of the country which need more overnight provisions for lorry parking, and work is already underway to address this with plans from private developers to add an extra 1,000 additional spaces across the country.