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Dover approaches: M20 and M2 drivers under pressure

A half term trip to Belgium with my son provided the opportunity to try out the two main road approaches to Dover and the Channel Tunnel. Even without Brexit looming, there is a lot going on and much to do. Welcome investment in the road network inevitably puts pressure on the system.

The M20 has three sets of roadworks on it that we encountered or could see. ‘Smart’ motorway works bring the hard shoulder into use. The road surfaces in places are pretty worn and patched so you can see why this features both as the number one priority for improvement in our research and why repairs might be necessary. ‘Carriageway repairs’ (what is a carriageway?!) closer to Dover and further works on the northbound carriageway.

There will also be preparatory work soon for ‘Operation Brock’ which, in preparation for potential Brexit queues, will turn the southbound section from junctions 8 to 9 into a lorry holding area and employ the northbound section as a contraflow put in to deal with other usage – including local traffic.

The Stop 24 services near Folkestone were clean, bright and looked underused. Pity they didn’t take part in our recent Motorway Services User Survey – I suspect they would have come out well! Even with roadworks we arrived in Dover on time for the ferry. Every time you go to Dover one cannot but be amazed by how much traffic it handles in such a tight space.

Coming back up the A2 before the M2 starts you are struck by the lack of investment in this road. Three roundabouts to negotiate, lorries parked where they can, worn-out road surfaces and litter abound: welcome to Britain! More roadworks on and around the Medway Bridge as well. As the evening rush hour built up and we got closer to London, the traffic became really heavy and slow – the A2 heading out from London inside the M25 was stationary. The interchanges with the M25 are very busy.

So, much evidence of investment but a strong sense that, as traffic levels continue to rise, how roadworks are carried out and the quality of the information offered to road users will be key factors in whether drivers trust Highways England.

We are working with it to make sure the improvements flagged up in our research are built in.

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