A programme of driving restrictions could be brought in on the A256 as part of the Department for Transport and Kent County Council’s ‘post-Brexit’ plans to deal with predicted traffic backlogs at the Port of Dover due to extended border checks.
A Traffic Management Plan created to ensure Kent’s highways continue to be open.looks at the impact of queuing traffic arising from the border changes following the UK’s exit from the European Union on March 29.
It has been forecast that, in a no-deal Brexit scenario, Kent will need to cope with holding up to 10,000 HGVs on a routine basis.
Part of the plan includes a Traffic Assessment Project on the A256, similar to that on the A20 going into Dover where traffic lights are used to control the number of lorries being released into the town and a 40mph speed limit is put in place.
A report to county council Cabinet members also reveals £4.9million will be spent increasing the capacity at the Manston airport site to hold 6,000 – rather than the initial projection of 4,000 – lorries.
The work will include a new site access and a potential temporary hardstanding and modifications to the new entrance, which was used during a trial run of less than 90 HGVs earlier this month,
It will also pay for lining and signing. Kent Fire Service are currently undertaking a fire risk assessment of the truck spacing.
The work is part of plans for Operation Brock – the updated version of lorry queuing system Operation Stack- which contains 5 phases for dealing with a backlog of HGVs. Phase 1 uses the A20 and Dover and Eurotunnel buffer zones, phase 2 is a contraflow system on the M20, phase 3 uses the A256 and sends up to 6,000 lorries to be parked up on the Manston airport site.
Phase 4 uses the M26 and phase 5 takes traffic out of the county.
The cash comes out of a £28.81million grant from the Department for Transport. Other work will include strengthening and resurfacing of key stretches of road on the A249, A256 and A299 with 300 gully strengthening orders in progress; seven lagoons on the Thanet Way or through Dover have been surveyed with work orders for enhanced maintenance in progress and pumps on the Thanet Way have been identified for servicing/ replacement and a full CCTV survey of the Thanet Way, which is prone to flooding, is underway. Road signs will also need to be put in place.
The work must be completed by March 29 and KCC has applied for more government funding for ‘post-Brexit’ preparations.
In January last year The Isle of Thanet News exclusively revealed the emergency lorry park designation had cost the Department for Transport more than £5.7 million since 2015. The majority of the money was for site preparations. It has never been used for emergency lorry parking.
The deal to use Manston as a short-term solution was first struck with site owners Stone Hill Park in August 2015 following a Summer of disruption due to French strikes and growing migrant camps in Calais, with many attempts to illegally enter the UK through Dover and the Channel Tunnel.
The aim was to park lorries up at the site and so reduce pressure on the M20. The government extended the deal in November 2017 to run until the end of 2019.