A DUALLED stretch of the A21 near Tunbridge Wells celebrates its birthday today (Wednesday, September 21), marking five years since the project was completed.
The dualling of the main throughfare was first conceived in the early 2000s and a pledge to turn the road into a dual carriageway was part of Greg Clark’s first campaign to be MP for Tunbridge Wells in 2005.
Work finally started on the 2.5-mile dual carriageway stretch of road between Tonbridge and Pembury in spring 2015, and opened in phases, starting with the new flyover at Longfield Road.
But the full Tonbridge to Pembury bypass was officially finished and opened by the Highways Agency on September 21, 2017.
The dualling was achieved at a cost of £92million of Government money that was used to replace 1.7 miles of single carriageway road with a dual carriageway road.
Before the upgrade, the road, which is the main route from London to Hastings, was often the cause of severe congestion and suffered above national average numbers of accidents compared to similar stretches of road.
Designed with the expectation of 35,000 cars a day, the dual carriageway has since eased congestion and cut journey times on the important artery.
And further improvements have been promised.
Before the December 2019 election, Greg Clark MP pledged to push the dual carriageway onward from Pembury to Lamberhurst.
He was joined by his Conservative colleague, Roads Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton during his election campaign, when Mr Clark said the proposal would ‘relieve the congestion, danger and pollution of the road between Pembury and Lamberhurst’.
Five years since opening, the dualled A21 is now used by more than 12 million cars a year.
But there will be no celebrations to mark the anniversary, as the road is now in need of repair following half a decade of use.
Roadworks planned for the autumn will see northbound and southbound sections of the A21 closed, or partly closed on weekday nights from Vauxhall Lane to Longfield Junction, for repairs and maintenance.
National Highways said: “This is part of a package of work to repair and maintain the bridges along the A21 Tonbridge bypass that will help keep the road and bridges safe for all road users, extend their lifespan and reduce the need for further unplanned closures.”