New ‘Operation Stack’ plans announced

Residents and business owners in Kent have welcomed new plans to improve traffic conditions in the county when cross-channel operations are disrupted. Operation Stack was first introduced in February 1988 and has seen multiple changes and improvements throughout its history, but the latest changes planned will involve introducing a contraflow system to allow drivers to continue to use the M20 during its operation.

The changes were announced on 18th May by Roads Minister, Jesse Norman.

“We’ve seen the severe disruption that people in Kent had to face in 2015 when there were hold-ups across the Channel”, Mr. Norman said.

“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.”

How the plan will work

Traffic will be able to travel in both directions between junctions 8 (Maidstone) and 9 (Ashford), while lorries are queuing on the other side. Instead of being diverted onto the smaller road, drivers will be able to access both junctions, greatly reducing congestion on the surrounding areas.

Improved parking

Highways England are also due to launch a public consultation to find a permanent solution. This would include asking residents, local business owners and the transport industry whether they would prefer an on-road solution or an off-road lorry park.

The new plans are due to be ready for use by early 2019, should the need arise. The Department for Transport recently published a national lorry parking survey and is subsequently looking at improving overnight parking facilities in the county to address the current shortage. It is believed that there are currently less than 600 designated overnight parking spaces for large goods vehicles in Kent.

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