Full construction work on the scheme begins in late July. To maintain three lanes and to create space for our road workers we have been installing narrow lanes and a 50mph speed limit since late June. Our diversion routes have been approved by Kent County Council. Maps of these routes are available below.
We are currently finalising the last sections of vegetation clearance and conducting final surveys ahead of full construction starting.
We finalised the scheme design and enabling works started in March 2018 in partnership with our delivery partner, Kier. This involved establishing a site compound at Castle Way which should be fully functioning by the end of August 2018.
We held public information exhibitions between September and January 2017 and in April and May 2018 to inform the public about the scheme and answer any concerns about the upcoming works. For further events, see our Community Events section below.
Important update: We have cancelled the 27-30 July weekend closure of the M20 between junctions 4 at Leybourne and 6 at Maidstone because of predicted high traffic volumes and the continuing hot weather.
Updates on future closures will be posted here as soon as they are agreed.
Works in the motorway verge: July 2018 to March 2019
Construction will start in the motorway verge. This will include: replacing drainage pipes, installing new lighting in parts of the scheme and cabling, building emergency refuge areas, installing new noise barriers, installing new gantries and taking down obsolete ones and resurfacing lane 1 between junctions 3 and 5.
Works in the central reserve: March 2019 to December 2019
When the work in the verge is complete, we will move to the central reserve where work will include: removing the metal fencing and replacing this with a solid concrete barrier and resurfacing lane 4 between junctions 3 and 5.
The scheme is expected to be completed by March 2020.
Please note, all dates are subject to change depending on weather and other factors.
|2016 to March 2018||Design works|
|March 2018||Start of advanced works|
|July 2018||Start of main works|
|March 2020||Completion of main works|
Upgrading the M20 to a smart motorway involves installing a lot of technology and infrastructure as well as converting the hard shoulder to a permanent driving lane. Between July 2018 and March 2020 construction work will include taking down and replacing the deck of Teapot Lane footbridge; installing new gantries that display travel information, lane availability and variable speeds when necessary; new drainage; and additional noise barriers in some areas.
If you live close to the motorway you're likely to hear and see the work we're doing, and sometimes this work will need to take place at night, as well as during the day. We're running two events where we'll use computer software and videos to show you what the new smart motorway will look like. Engineers responsible for the construction will explain how we will build it and what to expect if you live nearby.
Aylesford Secondary School
Monday 16 July 6pm to 8pm
Drop-in exhibition 6pm to 8pm
Presentation with Q&A at 7pm
Ryarsh Village Hall
Thursday 26 July 7pm to 9pm
Drop-in exhibition 7pm to 9pm
Presentation with Q&A at 8pm
Why we need this scheme
The M20 Junctions 3 to 5 forms part of a principal route that provides key links via Dover and Channel Tunnel to and from mainland Europe. As such, it facilitates national, regional and local travel, and regeneration and growth. Furthermore, the route provides critical access via the M26/M25 to London, the airports of Heathrow and Gatwick and to the wider South-East, South-West and the Midlands.
The M20 at junctions 3 to 5 currently suffers frequent delays due to the volume of traffic. This scheme will provide greater traffic capacity and more reliable journey times by improving the flow of traffic.
This scheme aims to:
- reduce congestion by smoothing the flow of traffic to 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 already are among the safest roads in the world
The scheme in detail
We're converting a section of the M20 into a smart motorway. Smart motorways use the latest technology to improve journeys by sensing traffic flow and setting speed limits accordingly to keep traffic moving smoothly, instead of continually stopping and starting. The smart motorway proposals on the M20, between junctions 3 and 5, involve converting most of the hard shoulder permanently to a traffic lane to create much-needed extra capacity to support economic growth.
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.
The proposed scheme will enable proactive management of the M20 carriageway, including the link roads from/to the M26 at junction 3 (the junction with the M26) to junction 4, including the junction 4 east-bound off-slip and west-bound on-slip.
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 the 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
- new and 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 adding a reinforced barrier to improve safety
- adding new noise barriers in built up areas
- replacement of the Teapot Lane Footbridge deck at Aylesford to accommodate the hardshoulder conversion to a running lane
- resurfacing lanes 1 and 4 in both directions with a lower noise surface
- improvement of drainage
To ensure the scheme is operational on opening, there are various factors that need to be addressed. These include:
- the removal of the steel central reserve barrier and replacement with a concrete barrier
- road restraint in the verge
- central reserve / hard shoulder hardening (i.e. removal of the soft verge)
- construction of Emergency Refuge Areas
- implementing new drainage systems
- removal of existing signs and gantries, and replacement with upgraded infrastructure
- new communications infrastructure between the signage and the Regional Control Centre
- new CCTV cameras with full (infrared) coverage
- partial carriageway resurfacing with a lower noise surface
Emergency refuge areas
As the hard shoulder will be converted into a fourth lane, we'll be installing emergency refuge areas. On this stretch of smart motorway, the distance between safe places will be approximately 1950m. This includes both emergency areas and hard shoulder where available.
For further information on driving on Smart Motorways, please view our guide: How to drive on a smart motorway.
Because we are working within the Highway Boundary and our environmental studies so far indicate that air quality and noise impacts are not significant, we do not believe anyone will be entitled to compensation. Details on our compensation policies are available on the Highways England website.
Teapot Lane Footbridge
We will be temporarily closing access to the footbridge. This is because the bridge deck is being replaced to increase the height of the bridge. We're doing this work because we're converting the hard shoulder of the M20 into a traffic lane and need to allow space for vehicles on this lane. The dates for this work are currently being revised.
To cross the motorway without the footbridge, a temporary diversion is recommended via Station Road, which crosses the M20 approximately 450m to the west of the footbridge and Robson Drive. This route is suitable for both pedestrians and cyclists, with an additional journey time of approximately 11 minutes and 5 minutes respectively. Installation of a temporary crossing was considered but due to the limited space available this is not feasible.
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
We have undertaken an environmental assessment that covers topics including noise and vibration, air quality, ecology and visual impacts.
The overall conclusion using specified guidance regarding the effect of the Proposed Scheme is that there would be no significant adverse effect on local air quality. Assessments shows that there will be no exceedances of the annual mean NO2 UK AQS objective in the future year (2019) with or without the Proposed Scheme. There is not expected to be a compliance risk due to the Proposed Scheme. Trend analysis from continuous monitoring sites indicated that there were statistically significant downward trends in annual mean NO2 concentrations in the area.
During construction, significant daytime noise impacts during the proposed construction works are not anticipated at neighbouring properties, based on the likely worst-case noise predictions undertaken.
We have carried out surveys for protected species, including Dormice, adjacent to the motorway. Mitigation work will be undertaken within Natural England licenses. The vegetation clearance has to be undertaken at certain times of the year to minimise disruption to wildlife.
We will retain existing screening planting where possible and propose additional planting upon completion of the scheme to minimise views of the motorway and associated equipment.
We are installing new environmental barriers to minimise noise effects. The type is dictated by what is needed at each location; reflective barriers push noise back across the source (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.
The new lanes (termed Lanes 1 and 4) will have low noise pavement. The existing lanes are in good condition and do not require resurfacing as part of this scheme. Highways England will resurface these lanes when the condition of pavement falls below our high standards.
We will be working at night. This is because we need to keep three lanes running on the motorway in peak hours. This restricts the available working area and consequently we are required to undertake significant amounts of works at night. Examples of work we will carry out at night include: gantry removal and installation and resurfacing.
Wherever possible, the noisier operations will be undertaken during daytime hours. If the work we‚Äôre planning to do means we have to move or extend the Traffic Management (for example if we need to close additional lanes), then the work will be undertaken at night. We will make every effort to limit the time taken on this type of work.
Project media files and documents
Roadworks and Events for England
The latest incident information for England's motorway and trunk routes provided by Highways England
Breaking News: Traffic Information
The latest current breaking news items for England's motorway network