Five of the 10 priorities identified in Kent County Council’s new transport plan will have a direct benefit for freight, says the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
KCC launched a 12-week consultation for its Local Transport Plan 4: Delivering Growth without Gridlock 2016-2031 which highlights key infrastructure developments across the county that are needed to support ambitious growth targets.
The priorities include:
- A new Lower Thames Crossing
- Port expansion at Dover Western Docks
- A solution to Operation Stack
- Splitting port traffic between the M2 and M20 for more efficient traffic management
- provision for overnight lorry parking
Natalie Chapman, FTA Head of Policy for London and the South East, said: “The plan identifies a number of issues that FTA agrees should be a priority for Kent. Lorry parking is a problem throughout the country, but it is especially difficult for drivers approaching the Port of Dover to find a safe place to take their breaks.
“We need a decision on the Lower Thames Crossing and the accompanying improvements to the A2 as soon as possible. Plans for a lorry area at Stanford as an alternative to Operation Stack and the proposed traffic management on the motorways towards the port will all play a key role in keeping freight moving.”
A new Lower Thames Crossing to the east of Gravesend would mean that the M2/A2 becomes the route of choice for freight heading to the Eastern Docks at the Port of Dover. This would have significant benefits for Dover – by keeping continent-bound vehicles out of the town, it would no longer be a through route and would help regenerate the town.
However, Chapman said that the whole of the A2 north of Dover must be at least dual carriageway otherwise there would be potential bottlenecks adding time and cost to freight journeys.
“These works must be completed in readiness for the opening of the Lower Thames Crossing and therefore need to feature in the next Roads Investment Strategy for Highways England for 2020-2025. Most importantly, this would create a more resilient strategic road network in Kent – a major gateway to Europe and beyond,” she said.
The proposed Western Docks expansion would also help create more capacity for freight traffic which has seen year-on-year increases and is forecast to continue growing. Chapman said it was important that the capacity and systems are in place to keep freight flowing and to prevent it queuing out of the Port or having to be held elsewhere.