Thousands of people had their cross-Channel journeys disrupted last weekend because of customs delays at the Port of Dover and a serious collision on the M20.
The AA has issued its first amber warning for severe traffic congestion between 11am-3pm today and Saturday.
Roads approaching Dover and the Eurotunnel terminal at Folkestone are expected to be busy, as well as those serving Devon and Cornwall, such as the M5, A303 and A30.
The south-west and western sections of the M25, the Bristol M4/M5 junction, and the M6, M42, M1 and M62 are also vulnerable to jams this weekend.
Today the leaders of a number of Kent councils, the chief executive of Visit Kent and the director of public affairs at Getlink, which runs the Eurotunnel, have penned an open letter to the Secretary of State for Transport calling for more investment in Kent’s roads – and more cash in the meantime.
The letter reads: “It was another frustrating weekend last week for residents and businesses in Dover, Folkestone and Ashford, cut off from the rest of the world by gridlocked local roads, causing yet more damage to both the local and national economy.
“The impact is also felt by neighbouring areas, with serious consequences for Kent’s vitally important tourism and visitor economy.
“This is a bigger problem than Dover and Folkestone. It’s damaging the whole UK economy and Britain’s global reputation.
“As a nation we are reliant on highly efficient and effective cross-Channel services; nowhere can match the capacity of the short straits crossings from Dover and Folkestone and which remain the first choice for both domestic and international travellers and hauliers.
“They are an essential part of our national infrastructure and need to be acknowledged as such.
“But the system is fragile. Any disruption to services quickly escalates out of control. And it is local communities, businesses and tourism across Kent that bear the brunt of these increasingly frequent events.
“If we want to enjoy holidays abroad, export our goods and welcome in-bound tourists and trade in return, the government must act and produce a long-term solution.
“This will take time. So, in the interim, we are calling on the government to provide greater resources to the Kent Resilience Forum and its partners so they can more effectively manage disruption on Kent’s roads and extend welfare facilities.
“The challenge will just get bigger if the government ignores the issue. Next year’s planned introduction of the Entry Exit System which requires biometric checks is set to put our county at the forefront all over again.
“The clock is ticking and the time to act is now!”
The letter calls for four solutions:
– To invest in Kent’s road network, including but not limited to, dualling the A2 from Lydden to Dover along with improvements to Brenley Corner, and the Whitfield and Duke of York roundabouts– To develop additional border facilities supported by a network of lorry parks throughout the country– To create “smart” travel corridors and efficient borders through new technology– To improve access and capacity for rail freight and high-speed passenger trains.
The letter was signed by the leaders of Dover, Folkestone and Hythe, Ashford, Canterbury, Swale and Thanet district councils, the leader of Kent County Council, Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott, Visit Kent CEO Deirdre Wells OBE and John Keefe, director of public affairs at Getlink.