M20 motorway

M20 motorway

UK motorway routebox
motorway= M20
euroroute= European route number small sign|15
length-mi= 50.6
length-km= 81.4
direction= northwest - southeast
start= Swanley
destinations= Maidstone
Channel Tunnel
end= Folkestone
opening-date= 1960
junctions= 1 -

The M20 is a motorway in Kent, England. It runs from the M25 motorway to Folkestone, providing a link to the Channel Tunnel and the ports at Dover. It is 50.6 miles (81.4km) long. Although not signposted in England, this road is part of the European route E15.


The road starts at its junction with the M25 motorway and A20 road just east of Swanley, then continues south east across the River Darent, north of Farningham through the North Downs, past West Kingsdown and Wrotham to meet the M26. It then strikes east, running north of Addington. When it reaches Junction 4 it passes south of New Hythe and runs parallel to the Medway Valley railway line before crossing it close to junction 5. This next section is the Maidstone bypass. High Speed 1 then runs parallel to the motorway as it continues to the north of Bearsted, crosses the Swanley to Ashford (via Maidstone East) Line then out into the countryside alongside Leeds Castle. Proceeding south of Lenham and Charing it is crossed by the Ashford and CTRL railway lines before becoming the Ashford bypass. Travelling past Brabourne Lees it is once again joined by the CTRL and the River East Stour.

Just north of Saltwood it reaches the Channel Tunnel terminal and is crossed by HS1 for the last time. The final section runs along the northern suburbs of Folkestone.


Original construction

The M20 was, in common with many United Kingdom motorways, opened in stages [ [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m20lofostat.htm The Motorway Archive - M20 Dates] ] [ [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/m20/timeline.shtml CBRD Motorway Database - M20 Timeline] ] :

*Junctions 5 to 7 opened in 1960
*Junctions 7 to 8 opened in 1961

:These sections of the M20 were known as the "Maidstone Bypass". This road was then numbered as the A20(M) [ [http://www.pathetic.org.uk/motorways/a20m.shtml Pathetic Motorways - A20(M)] ] as it bypassed the stretch of A20 through Maidstone which was renumbered A2020. This was the first stretch of motorway to open south of London [ [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/histories/chronologymaps/1960.shtml CBRD Motorway Chronology - 1960] ] . When the motorway was extended westwards towards London in the 1970s, it was renamed M20 and the A2020 reverted back to A20.

*Junctions 3 to 5 in 1971
*Junctions 1 to 2 in 1977:This section actually ended at a temporary junction near West Kingsdown [http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/6690.aspx Highways Agency - M20/M26/A20(London - Dover) Route Management Strategy] ] .
*Temporary Terminus to Junction 3 in 1980
*Junctions 11 to 13 in 1981
*Junctions 9 to 11 in 1981

This left the motorway in 2 sections, with the 14 mile gap running via the A20 - this was referred to locally as "The Missing Link" [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/kent/history/history/weeklyfacts20.shtml BBC Kent History - This Week In Time] ] . The level of traffic was not considered necessary to complete the route. Most of the traffic for the channel ports was using the A2/M2 route. When the Channel Tunnel was ready for construction, it was decided to complete the M20 between Junctions 8 and 9 and this opened in 1991. Concurrent to this was the extension to Dover as part of the A20 which opened in 1993. A new junction was also constructed (11A) for the Channel Tunnel.


Following completion of the junction 8 to 9 section, the M20 was 3 lanes either side of the original A20(M) section. This was a bottleneck, so it was decided to widen this section of motorway. The road here was increased to a dual 3 or 4 lane road with 2 lane distributor roads either side. This section was opened in 1995.

Future plans

Junction 10

Work on a £4.9 million scheme to tackle congestion at Junction 10 of the M20 near Ashford began in September 2006, due to be completed in summer 2007 [ [http://www.gnn.gov.uk/imagelibrary/detail.asp?MediaDetailsID=175668 Government News Network Press Release - 07/09/06] ] . Extra lane space is being provided for traffic joining and leaving the M20 motorway at the junction, in preparation for new development in the area. The bridges across the motorway will be modified to provide three lanes of traffic at the roundabout, and local approach roads will also be widened, with new traffic lights to control traffic flows at the junction between the A292 Hythe Road and the London-bound M20 entry slip road. A new footbridge will also be constructed across the motorway [ [http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/5703.aspx Highways Agency Junction 10 Interim Improvement Scheme Page] ] .

Junction 10a

The Highways Agency are to provide a new M20 Junction 10a and link road to the A2070 at Ashford in Kent, east of Junction 10 [ [http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/5703.aspx Highways Agency - M20 Junction 10A Scheme Page] ] . This is to support the development of South Ashford, identified as a growth area in the South East.

Operation Stack

:"See main article: Operation Stack.Since the opening of the Channel Tunnel sections of the M20 have been used occasionally for the implementation of Operation Stack, should the ferries or Channel Tunnel stop running. This closes that part of the motorway and uses the area as a lorry park until the ferries and Channel Tunnel are fully running again.


ee also

*List of motorways in the United Kingdom
*Great Britain road numbering scheme


External links

* [http://www.cbrd.co.uk/motorway/m20/ CBRD Motorway Database - M20]
* [http://www.iht.org/motorway/m20londfolk.htm The Motorway Archive - M20]
* [http://www.pathetic.org.uk/motorways/a20m.shtml Pathetic Motorways - A20(M)]

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