Stockbury Roundabout’s £102m upgrade hits problem as Swale council rejects proposal
PUBLISHED: 14:51 21 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:51 21 September 2017
But opposition from local authority may not be enough to prevent it going ahead
Plans to upgrade a major traffic pinch point near Sittingbourne has hit a stumbling block after the local council rejected the suggested proposal.
Highways England earlier this month outlined plans to consult on a £102 million scheme to transform the Stockbury Roundabout - junction five from the M2 for Maidstone and Sittingbourne and which then links, via the A249 past the Kent Showground at Detling, to the M20.
But Swale Borough Council voted unanimously against the plans on Wednesday night, saying they did not go far enough to solve the problems on the roundabout.
A dozen options, including an A249 flyover above the roundabout, and a plan to replace the roundabout with a three-tier interchange, were initially considered by roads chiefs but scrapped because they decided they would not have a sufficient effect on reducing congestion, or they were too expensive.
Instead, a fresh consideration, known as Option 12A, has been brought forward for the public to feed back on.
This option will see the roundabout enlarged to provide a new through route for cars using the A249, new dedicated left-turn lanes for traffic travelling from the A249 southbound to the M2 London-bound and from the A249 northbound to the M2 coast-bound.
A new single lane slip road from the M2 coast-bound to the A249 northbound which would avoid the roundabout altogether is also proposed, while the existing connection from the Maidstone Road to the roundabout would be closed, with Maidstone Road re-routed to link with Oad Street.
Additionally, the existing junction of Oad Street with the A249 would be closed and a new link would be provided south of the existing Oad Street to connect directly with the roundabout, while the Honeycrock Hill junction with the A249 would also be closed for safety reasons.
The council wants to see another more expensive option at around £160 million which will include the three-tier interchange that will be able to cope with the predicted higher traffic volume in the future.
Swale councillors passed a motion this week which states the authority rejects Option 12A as it “will not provide a long term solution to the issues faced here by many drivers and businesses”.
Instead, the council wants the triple tier Option 10 and insists the government finds the extra cash.
Highways England planned to send in the bulldozers in 2020, and does not actually need consent from Swale council for work to start.
Conservative leader of Swale councillor, Andrew Bowles, said: “The council, along with the local MP, have lobbied hard to secure funding to address the long-standing congestion and safety issues experienced by road users passing through junction five of the M2.
“Having secured the £100m, it is disappointing that this is considered sufficient to provide only one possible option, which in my view has been designed to the budget, rather than to provide a junction that will be able to provide a solution for the medium to long-term.
“I believe an option which includes a fly-over makes the most sense, but whatever the final design, it must be able to cope with not only the growth we are being asked to deliver but also the impacts of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, which will drive increased traffic flows along the M2 corridor.”
Highways England has so far failed to comment on the council vote.
Earlier this month, senior project manager Neil Andrew told us: “We’ve gone through the options looking at the high level objectives that were set – that is looking towards reducing the number of incidents because this junction is identified within the top 50 national casualty locations, with 111 personal injury accidents between 2011 and 2015.
“We can see it’s a very high accident location for sideswipes as people are moving around the roundabout and also as people are approaching on the A249.
“It’s also looked towards journey times so trying to reduce the congestion experienced on both the approaches from the M2 and A249.
“The scheme we’re developing is also aimed at keeping traffic on the strategic road network.
“A large number of individuals at the moment are using rural roads to get around the junction and causing subsequent congestion and anxiety for residents and local communities.
“The commitment made to government is to begin work on this junction by March 2020 and at the moment that is what our current programme is showing.
“In terms of an actual construction project, for a scheme of this nature, we’re looking at 18 to 24 months so we’re anticipating this being open to traffic by summer 2022.”