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M20 closure warning as barriers get installed ahead of no-deal Brexit

Overnight closures are going to be put in place for a month as one of the main routes to the Channel will have temporary steel barriers installed.

As preparations for a no-deal Brexit ramp up, barriers will be fixed on the M20 as part of Operation Brock (the planned traffic management system in the event of a no-deal Brexit) from this weekend until completion in mid-March.

Overnight closures will be in place between junctions 9 (Ashford) and 7 (Maidstone) to enable the work to take place safely. A 50mph speed limit will also be implemented from next Tuesday (12 February) until the work is completed.

Highway bosses say the barriers will let lorries travelling to Europe flow free and keep traffic disruption to Kent to a minimum as a section of the M20 would act a contra-flow system when congestion builds to heavy levels.

The arrangements are said to keep the M20 open to traffic in both directions in all but the most extreme circumstances.

Operation Brock plans also include stacking lorries on the M26 and at Manston airfield in Thanet to reduce delays at the Channel Tunnel at Folkestone and the Port of Dover. 

Diversions will also be put in place on the A20 with drivers being warned to expect delays.

Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “The steps we are putting in place on the M20 are based on our extensive experience of working with partners to keep the road network in this region operating safely and reliably. They incorporate the lessons learned from our experience of Operation Stack in 2015 and techniques from our major construction schemes in other parts of the country. They will make a significant difference to reducing the congestion and disruption to both the M20 itself and the wider road network and people of Kent.”