Highways England will have a new type of barrier at its disposal that can be deployed within hours to manage traffic on the M20 during periods of cross-channel disruption.
The technology will be designed to ensure that the M20 is kept open at times of disruption, whilst also allowing the motorway to retain three lanes, a hard shoulder and 70mph speed limits in both directions during normal traffic conditions.
This will be a marked improvement in comparison to Operation Brock which required a month of overnight closures to deploy the metal barrier required for the contraflow system previously used. The new system should be in operation by the end of the year.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “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.
“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 technology has been chosen by the Department for Transport and Highways England 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.
The new solution also means that Highways England’s work on an ‘off road’ replacement for Operation Stack has been stopped. As part of this, previous Highways England plans for a new large lorry holding area in Kent are no longer being pursued.