Highways England starts work on first of four major projects in South East

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Highways England (HE) has started work on a new £104m (US$144m) junction on the M20 motorway in Kent, as one of four major improvements that will start construction across South East England in the first six months of 2018, promising better, safer journeys for all road users.

The UK government says the construction of junction 10a, near Ashford, will unlock job-creating developments, improve journeys, and open the door to further inward economic investment for communities along the M20 corridor, a crucial link to the south coast.

Since the project was given the go ahead in December 2017, final preparations for starting construction have been completed and now work will start on setting up a site compound ahead of main construction starting in the spring.

Between now and June this year, work will also start on three smart motorway upgrades in Kent, the Solent area, and on the M23 near Gatwick Airport. Together valued at over £550m (US$762m), they will add around 65 miles (105km) of new lanes, increasing capacity by a third, and introducing new technology to tackle congestion and keep drivers informed about road conditions.

Four other upgrades across the region will hit crucial points, including public consultations that will help shape the proposals, and route announcements. A consultation on improving junction 9 of the M3 near Winchester launched in January, and a consultation into major improvements of the M25’s interchange with the A3 near Wisley in Surrey will start today (February 12).

A total of 37 projects across England will hit milestones between now and June, including seven schemes starting construction, and four improvements opening to traffic, adding much needed extra capacity to some of the country’s busiest roads and improving journeys for millions of drivers. These schemes will join the 18 major projects that have already opened to traffic since April 2015, when HE embarked on delivering the UK government’s £15bn (US$20.7bn) Road Investment Strategy, the biggest investment in the country’s major roads since the 1970s. A further 16 are presently in construction. Those that have opened include the M3 smart motorway between the M25 and Farnborough, and a new dual carriageway on the A21 near Tonbridge in Kent.

HE’s chief executive, Jim O’Sullivan said, “These upgrades in the South East will improve millions of journeys. Each of these milestones in the region is evidence of the agency delivering major infrastructure upgrades for the whole country.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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