Twelve months of disruption ahead as work begins to move the Brock barrier in Kent
Delays are expected for drivers as work to relocate the movable barrier used as part of Operation Brock will start on the M20 in Kent tonight (28 January).
The motorway will be closed in both directions between junction 9 near Maidstone and junction 8 near Ashford from 8pm until 6am on Saturday morning.
A diversion will be in place along the A20 to help road users reach their destination. Over-height vehicles should use the A2, M2 and A249.
It is the first of a series of closures which could take up to 12 months.
From Saturday (29 January) lanes will be closed on both the London-bound and coastbound carriageways for around 40 weeks, and a 50mph speed limit will be enforced.
The barrier is currently being stored on the London-bound hard shoulder but will be relocated to its permanent home on the central reservation.
It was introduced as a Brexit measure to allow the Brock contraflow system to be activated on the M20 London-bound carriageway, should the coastbound carriageway be required for queuing port-bound freight.
The MP for Ashford, Damian Green, has questioned the length of time National Highways say the work will take.
He said: "I use the motorway as well as my constituents and many others, so I think everyone says 'why is it taking a year?'
"I've asked that question of National Highways and they say there's a lot of work they have to do. It's not just moving the barrier. So it's going to take them a year.
"But I will keep asking questions throughout the process to try and get it speeded up."
"I hope that some contingency time has been built into this timetable of taking a year to do it, so that it can be done faster.
"Even if there are a lot of ancillary works to be done, which I understand, I am still skeptical about why it should take the whole of this year to do what is a relatively small stretch of motorway.
"So I will certainly keep pressing on that."
Damian Green MP, Ashford, Con
In a statement, National Highways said: "Work to move the barrier will take place in phases, and to carry it out safely, lane closures and a small number of overnight closures will be needed. These will be notified in advance.
"Between January and October 2022, the moveable barrier will be used as a traffic management barrier on the London-bound carriageway, while this work takes place.
"This does not mean the Brock contraflow system will be active, but it will provide a more efficient and cost-effective way of being able to deploy the contraflow quickly and effectively should it be required.
"Storing the moveable barrier on the M20 London-bound hard shoulder was only a temporary measure.
"We are about to start work to move it onto the central reservation, its permanent home, which will allow the hard shoulder between Ashford and Maidstone to be re-instated to its original width."
The M20 will be closed in both directions between junctions 9 and 8 from 8pm on Friday 28 January 2022 to 6am on Saturday 29 January 2022.
When the road is closed overnight, a signed diversion route, will be in place along the A20.
Over-height vehicles should use the A2, M2 and A249.
From Saturday 29 January 2022 lane closures will be needed between junctions 8 and 9 on both the London-bound and coastbound carriageways for around 40 weeks.
The outside two lanes will be closed on the London-bound carriageway, using the moveable barrier.
Work will start at junction 9 and National Highways will then extend the barrier towards junction 8. The barrier will increase in length as the work progresses. The hard shoulder will be in use, so there will be two lanes running London-bound, and a 50-mph speed restriction will be in place when the lanes are closed.
The outside lane of the coastbound carriageway will be closed using cones when work is taking place. Where the outside lane is closed, there will be a 50-mph speed limit in place.