M20 junctions 3 to 5: smart motorway

We're improving the busy 6.5 mile (10.5km) stretch of the M20 between junction 3 at West Malling and junction 5 at Aylesford by upgrading it to an all-lane running smart motorway.

Region:  South East
Start date:  July 2018
Cost:  £92 million
Status:  CURRENT
Type:  Major Scheme
End date:  March 2020
Programme:  

Have your say

We've introduced a new engagement tool where you can give your views on the project. Please click on the map below to add your comments about specific parts of the route.

Preview image of interactive map for the M20 Junctions 3 to 5

Progress report

We’re now in the process of gradually switching our traffic management away from the verges and into the central reserve of the motorway to start our works there.

Three live, narrow lanes and the 50mph speed limit will be maintained; however, when the switch comes into effect traffic will be directed to travel on the new lane one, which was previously the hard shoulder, along with lanes two and three. When we work in the central reserve we’ll replace the metal barrier with a solid concrete barrier, resurface lane four and install other structures between the carriageways.

The switch of the traffic management is taking place during night closures over an eight-week period, starting from junctions 3 to 4, then junctions 4 to 5. Subsequent updates with further details on the traffic management switch will follow in the near future – please sign up for updates below to be alerted when this website is updated.

All four of the new super span gantries, which extend over eight lanes, and 17 of the new cantilever gantries have been installed. The remaining gantries are scheduled to be installed over the coming weeks. These gantries will display valuable information for road users to help reduce congestion and ease traffic flow when the smart motorway comes into operation in spring 2020.

Arial shot of M20 progress

What's next?

Works in the central reserve

When we work in the central reserve we’ll replace the metal barrier with a solid concrete barrier and will resurface lane four between junctions 3 and 5.

The whole project is expected to be completed in spring 2020.

Timeline

Date Event
2016 to March 2018 Design works
March 2018 Start of advanced works
July 2018 Start of main works
March 2020 Completion of main works

Community events

At the end of April, we held a public event with our engagement van at Sainsbury’s Larkfield Superstore near junction 5 of the M20. The majority of visitors were looking forward to the opening of the smart motorway, recognising the benefits it will bring to the area.

As well as providing residents and road users with closure information and updates on the progress of the scheme, we helped them gain a better understanding of what driving on a smart motorway involves and how they operate.

In June we went to the services at junction 8 of the M20 to talk to more people about smart motorways and how to drive on them.

Towards the end of the year, we’re holding further public exhibitions to update residents and stakeholders on the progress of the scheme, as well as supporting local schools and colleges with STEM work and advice on apprenticeships and careers.

We’ll continue to raise donations for our chosen charities, Samaritans of Maidstone and Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI). The RBLI, based near junction 5 of the M20, improve lives by helping people who are struggling to find work or find a home, particularly Armed Forces Veterans and people with disabilities. The M20 junctions 3 to 5 smart motorway team are looking forward to assisting the RBLI.

Why we need this scheme

People use the M20 for national, regional and local journeys and the motorway supports a lot of regeneration and growth. The route also provides critical access to Dover, the Channel Tunnel, Heathrow, Gatwick and the wider south-east, south-west and the Midlands, via the M26 and M25.

The M20 at junctions 3 to 5 currently suffers frequent delays due to the volume of traffic. This scheme will mean the road has greater capacity, so journey times will be more reliable because traffic will flow better.

Aims

This scheme aims to:

  • reduce congestion, improve journey times and make them more reliable
  • facilitate economic growth within the region, by providing much needed capacity on the motorway
  • maximise motorway capacity while maintaining safety on motorways, which are already among the safest roads in the world

The scheme in detail

Smart motorways use the latest technology that senses traffic flow and sets speed limits to keep traffic moving smoothly, instead of continually stopping and starting. The smart motorway design for the M20, between junctions 3 and 5, involves converting most of the hard shoulder permanently to a traffic lane to create much-needed extra capacity.

There will be more gantries and electronic road signs on the motorway to give information about road conditions and speed limits to help smooth the flow of traffic.

It will also extend the existing variable mandatory speed limit to encompass the current hard shoulder between junction 4 and junction 5, including the junction realignments at junctions 4 and 5.

The scheme includes:

  • converting the hard shoulder to create a permanent fourth lane between junctions 3 and 5
  • redefined junction layouts to accommodate a fourth lane. Junction 3 and junction 4 eastbound will have three lanes and a hard shoulder. Junction 4 westbound and junction 5 will have four lanes and no hard shoulder
  • 27 new and two refurbished gantries with variable message signs
  • installing new electronic information signs, signals and CCTV cameras - these will be used to vary speed limits and manage traffic flow and incidents
  • installing five emergency areas to use in place of the hard shoulder which include Emergency Roadside Telephones (SOS) and CCTV cameras to improve emergency service response times
  • improving the central reserve and replacing the steel barrier with a concrete barrier to improve safety
  • adding new noise barriers in built-up areas
  • replacement of the Teapot Lane Footbridge deck at Aylesford to accommodate the hard shoulder conversion to a running lane
  • resurfacing lanes one and four between junction 3 and 5 in both directions with low-noise surfacing
  • improving drainage

The work we’re still to do before we open the smart motorway:

  • Removing the steel central reserve barrier and replacing it with a concrete barrier
  • Installing barriers in the verge
  • Installing a central reservation barrier
  • Building Emergency Refuge Areas
  • Installing new drainage systems
  • Removing existing signs and gantries and replacing them with upgraded infrastructure
  • New communications infrastructure between the signs and the Highways England Regional Control Centre
  • New CCTV cameras with full (infrared) coverage
  • Partial carriageway resurfacing with a lower noise surface

Emergency refuge areas

As we’re converting the hard shoulder into a fourth lane we’ll also install five emergency refuge areas on this 10.5km stretch of smart motorway. This means there will be a safe place to stop, either an emergency area or a stretch of hard should where we’ve kept it, every 1,950 metres.

For further information on driving on smart motorways, please view our guide: How to drive on a smart motorway.

Because we're working within the highway boundary and our environmental studies so far indicate that air quality and noise impacts are not significant, we don't believe anyone will be entitled to compensation. Details on our compensation policies are available on the Highways England website.

Teapot Lane Footbridge

We reinstalled Teapot Lane Footbridge on the weekend of November 16/17 2018. Following our post-installation construction work and safety checks, the footbridge is now open.

Installing the new Teapot Lane bridge

Diversions

For the M20 junction 4 to 6 closure see the diversion route below. For travellers starting their journeys outside Kent and heading for the coast, please use the M2 and then the A229.

M20 Eastbound J4-6 Diversion

M20 Diversion Map J4 Eastbound ENTRY

M20 Diversion Map J4 Eastbound EXIT

M20 Diversion Map J5 Eastbound EXIT

M20 Diversion Map M20 J2 to J4

M20 Diversion Map M20 J2 to J5

M20 Diversion Map M26 2A to M20

Driving on a smart motorway

A smart motorway uses technology to actively manage the flow of traffic. The technology is controlled from a regional traffic control centre. The control centres monitor traffic carefully and can activate and change signs and speed limits. This helps keep the traffic flowing freely.

Smart motorways increase the capacity of the road, without the expense and hassle of widening the road, by either temporarily or permanently opening the hard shoulder to traffic.

Tips for driving on a smart motorway:

  • never drive in a lane closed by a red “X”
  • keep to the speed limit shown on the gantries
  • a solid white line indicates the hard shoulder - don’t drive in it unless directed
  • a broken white line indicates a normal running lane
  • if your vehicle experiences difficulties, eg warning light, exit the smart motorway immediately if possible
  • use the refuge areas for emergencies if there’s no hard shoulder
  • put your hazard lights on if you break down

For more information, please visit our Smart Motorway guidance pages.

Environmental impact

We’ve assessed the environmental impacts our changes would have, including the levels of noise and vibration the new section of smart motorway might contribute to. We’ve also assessed potential changes in air quality, impacts on the surrounding ecology and what visual impact the project will have. You can read the results in our environmental report in the Media & Documents section.

Our assessments found no change in local air quality and no day time noise impact on those living near the work during construction.

When we surveyed for protected species beside the motorway we found evidence of dormice and nesting birds. We’ve taken advice from Natural England on ways to mitigate the effects of our work on them. This includes vegetation clearance being undertaken at certain times of the year to minimise disruption to wildlife.

To keep visual impact to a minimum, we'll keep existing screening planting where possible and put in additional planting when we finish our project to minimise views of the motorway and associated equipment.

To keep noise down we're:

  • Installing new environmental barriers in very residential areas to minimise noise effects. Some barriers push noise away from residents and into the atmosphere. Absorptive barriers take in noise, reducing the noise energy that reaches residents. Both types of barriers reduce the amount of noise reaching the residents.
  • Resurfacing lanes one and four with low noise surfacing between junctions 3 and 5.

Wherever possible, we'll do noisier work during the day. If the work we’re planning means we have to move or extend the traffic management (for example if we need to close additional lanes), then we will do it at night. We'll make every effort to limit the time taken on this type of work.

We have to do a lot of work at night because we must keep three lanes running on the motorway in peak hours, this means a lot of work must be done at night when it’s quieter. The types of work we have to do at night includes gantry removal and installation, and resurfacing.

Project media files and documents

Project timeline

Planned roadworks

Roadworks and Events for England

The latest incident information for England's motorway and trunk routes provided by Highways England

Location : The M26 eastbound between the M25 and junction J2A . Lane Closures : Lane two is closed. Reason : Emergency barrier repairs. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 05:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There is one of two lanes closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 11:02 pm
Location : The M26 westbound between junctions J3 and J2A . Lane Closures : Lane two is closed. Reason : Emergency barrier repairs. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 05:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There is one of two lanes closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 11:02 pm
Location : The M26 westbound between junction J3 and the M25 . Reason : Emergency barrier repairs. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 05:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 11:02 pm
Location : The M26 westbound at junction J2A . Reason : Road repairs. Status : Currently Active. Period : from 22:48 on 15 November 2019 to 05:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 10:51 pm
Location : The M20 westbound between junctions J6 and J4 . Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : from 21:00 on 15 November 2019 to 06:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 9:01 pm
Location : The M20 eastbound between junctions J4 and J6 . Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : from 20:09 on 15 November 2019 to 06:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 8:10 pm
Location : The M20 eastbound entry slip at junction J4 . Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 06:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 8:06 pm
Location : The M20 eastbound at junction J6 . Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 06:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 8:06 pm
Location : The M20 eastbound between junctions J5 and J6 . Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 06:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 8:06 pm
Location : The M20 eastbound exit slip at junction J5 . Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 06:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 8:06 pm
Location : The M20 eastbound exit slip at junction J6 . Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 06:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 8:06 pm
Location : The M20 eastbound between junctions J3 and J7 . Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 06:00 on 16 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes are closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 8:06 pm
Location : The M20 westbound between junctions J9 and J7 . Lane Closures : Lanes 2 and 3 are closed. Reason : Roadworks. Status : Currently Active. Period : expect disruption until 10:00 on 31 January 2020. Lanes Closed : There are two of four lanes closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 7:35 pm
Location : The M20 westbound at junction J7 . Lane Closures : Lane three will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadside drains works are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 21:00 and 06:00 from 18 November 2019 to 23 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be one of three lanes closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 9:13 am
Location : The M20 eastbound between junctions J7 and J8 . Lane Closures : Lane three will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadside drains works are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 21:00 and 06:00 from 18 November 2019 to 23 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be one of three lanes closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 9:13 am
Location : The M20 westbound between junctions J7 and J6 . Lane Closures : Lane three will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadside drains works are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 21:00 and 06:00 from 18 November 2019 to 23 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be one of four lanes closed.
Posted: November 15, 2019, 9:13 am
Location : The M2 eastbound exit slip at junction J2 . Lane Closures : Lane one will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 21:00 on 21 November 2019 to 06:00 on 22 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes will be closed.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 9:12 pm
Location : The M20 eastbound between junctions J1 and J7 . Reason : Roadworks scheme. Status : Currently Active. Period : from 20:00 on 14 November 2019 to 06:00 on 15 February 2020.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 8:01 pm
Location : The M2 westbound at junction J2 . Lane Closures : Lane three will be closed. Reason : Emergency barrier repairs are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 21:00 on 19 November 2019 to 06:00 on 20 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be one of three lanes closed.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 4:13 pm
Location : The M2 westbound between junctions J3 and J2 . Lane Closures : Lane three will be closed. Reason : Emergency barrier repairs are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 21:00 on 19 November 2019 to 06:00 on 20 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be one of four lanes closed.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 4:13 pm
Location : The M2 westbound entry slip at junction J2 . Lane Closures : Lane one will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 21:00 on 20 November 2019 to 06:00 on 21 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes will be closed.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 2:33 pm
Location : The M2 westbound entry slip at junction J3 . Lane Closures : Lanes 1 and 2 will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 21:00 on 19 November 2019 to 06:00 on 20 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes will be closed.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 2:23 pm
Location : The M2 westbound exit slip at junction J4 . Reason : Emergency roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 21:00 on 18 November 2019 to 06:00 on 19 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes will be closed.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 1:52 pm
Location : The M20 westbound between junctions J3 and J1 . Lane Closures : Lanes 1 and 2 will be closed. Reason : Emergency barrier repairs are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 22:00 on 18 November 2019 to 05:00 on 19 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be two of three lanes closed.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 1:42 pm
Location : The M20 westbound between junctions J6 and J1 . Reason : Roadworks scheme is planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 06:00 on 16 November 2019 to 06:00 on 15 February 2020.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 10:15 am
Location : The M20 westbound between junctions J6 and J2 . Lane Closures : Lanes 2 and 3 will be closed. Reason : Roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 20:00 and 06:00 from 18 November 2019 to 20 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be two of three lanes closed.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 10:15 am
Location : The M20 westbound exit slip at junction J4 . Reason : Roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 06:00 and 20:00 from 16 November 2019 to 17 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes will be closed.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 10:15 am
Location : The M20 westbound between junctions J4 and J1 . Lane Closures : Lanes 1, 2 and 3 will be closed. Reason : Roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 20:00 and 06:00 from 20 November 2019 to 23 November 2019. Lanes Closed : All lanes will be closed.
Posted: November 14, 2019, 10:15 am
Location : The A2 westbound between the A227 and the junction with the A2260 . Lane Closures : Lane one will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 20:00 on 21 November 2019 to 06:00 on 22 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be one of four lanes closed.
Posted: November 13, 2019, 12:04 pm
Location : The A2 eastbound between the A227 and the junction with the M2 . Lane Closures : Lane one will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 20:00 and 06:00 from 19 November 2019 to 21 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be one of four lanes closed.
Posted: November 13, 2019, 12:04 pm
Location : The A2 eastbound between the A227 and the junction with the M2 . Lane Closures : Lane one will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 20:00 on 18 November 2019 to 06:00 on 19 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be one of four lanes closed.
Posted: November 13, 2019, 12:04 pm
Location : The A2 westbound between the M2 and the junction with the A227 . Lane Closures : Lane one will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 20:00 on 18 November 2019 to 06:00 on 19 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be one of four lanes closed.
Posted: November 13, 2019, 12:04 pm
Location : The A2 westbound between the M2 and the junction with the A227 . Lane Closures : Lane one will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : Expect disruption everyday between 20:00 and 06:00 from 19 November 2019 to 21 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be one of four lanes closed.
Posted: November 13, 2019, 12:04 pm
Location : The A2 eastbound between the A2260 and the junction with the A227 . Lane Closures : Lane one will be closed. Reason : Emergency roadworks are planned. Status : Pending. Schedule : From 20:00 on 21 November 2019 to 06:00 on 22 November 2019. Lanes Closed : There will be one of four lanes closed.
Posted: November 13, 2019, 12:04 pm
Location : The M20 westbound between junctions J9 and J8 . Lane Closures : Lanes 2 and 3 are closed. Reason : Contraflow. Status : Currently Active. Period : from 06:30 on 28 October 2019 to 23:59 on 30 April 2020. Lanes Closed : There are two of four lanes closed.
Posted: November 13, 2019, 11:25 am
Location : The M20 westbound between junctions J9 and J7 . Reason : Roadworks scheme. Status : Currently Active. Period : from 08:54 on 28 October 2019 to 10:00 on 31 January 2020.
Posted: November 13, 2019, 11:25 am

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The A34 is closed northbound between the A4 and the A339 for recovery of an HGV
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