Traffic will be able to go in both directions of the same carriageway of the M20 next year as the government moves to address delays caused by Operation Stack.
In the past lorries queuing for the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel have parked on both sides of the road with one lane left open for emergency vehicles.
Renamed Operation Brock, the Highways Agency will introduce a contraflow system on the northbound carriageway between junction 8 at Maidstone Services near Hollingbourne and junction 9 at north Ashford.
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The government’s proposal reads: “Highways England will soon start work on improving the northbound hard shoulder of the M20 to allow for two-way traffic to be contained within one carriageway, enabling the road to remain open.”
Roads Minister Jesse Norman added: “We’ve seen the severe disruption that people in Kent had to face in 2015 when there were hold ups across the Channel.
“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.”
Operation Stack is the government’s emergency measure to deal with lorry traffic when there is disruption at the Channel ports and Eurotunnel.
Freight is split into two queues on each side of the coastbound carriageway, one for tunnel traffic and one for port traffic. The middle remains open for emergency vehicles.
They then wait until the ports and tunnel authorities notify the police that they can proceed.
Ashford MP Damian Green says Stack has been put into place 74 times in the last 20 years.
Sometimes the road can be closed for days, meaning that traffic is displaced on to other roads such as the A20 and the A2 which passes Canterbury.
The government has, meanwhile, abandoned plans to build a lorry park at the village of Stanford near Hythe.
It ditched the £250 scheme after massive local opposition and the launch of a judicial review against the proposal.