The decision has been taken by KCC to alter the construction commencement date for this project to April 2021 with an overall programme period of 12 months.
The initial tender for the work went out just as we entered the first lockdown. Tenderers requested an immediate extension due to their sub-contractors and suppliers furloughing their staff which resulted in them being unable to get relevant prices to input into the tender. The project also required planning approval. Again, this was impacted by the Covid-19 situation and extended the planning approval period, which I am pleased to report has now been granted.
A new start date was set for October, then November, but as a result of restrictions relating to the second COVID19 Lockdown, and the current level 3 rating in Kent, tenderers are having difficulty guaranteeing the availability of materials. Also, Highway Officers have been diverted to support the considerable effort needed to prepare for Brexit and other Highway associated Government initiatives.
With the EU transition date coming into effect on the 1st January 2021, the M20 and other roads around Maidstone could be seriously affected by heavy traffic congestion. The decision has been made to limit major roadworks along the motorways and any of the adjacent Roads that could increase the potential chaos should delays occur and emergency plans for Lorry holding areas, including Junction 8 to 9 of the M20, come into effect.
The delay until the 1st April will allow sufficient time to assess the impact of Brexit and make necessary adjustments to the traffic management proposals. KCC are also continuing to work with Highways England to secure funding for the signalisation of the M20 at Junction 7.