Minister briefed on need for stage two of the A21 dualling

A21 improvement project comes under fire for its spiralling costs

Roads Minister Andrew Jones has been urged to throw his weight behind plans to dual the traffic-clogged A21 between Kippings Cross and Lamberhurst.

His commitment was sought last week after he paid a flying visit to assess the situation for himself.

He was accompanied by MP Greg Clark and the MP for Hastings and Rye, Amber Rudd. The pair are hoping to eventually see the road dualled all the way to the coast.

Mr Clark successfully secured a government commitment to fund the current dualling taking place on the 2.5 miles stretch of road between Tonbridge and Pembury in 2014 at an estimated cost £70 million.

Mr Clark has always seen dualling as a two phase project although he was cautious about providing any timescale for when work might begin on the second stage.

He said: “I am very optimistic that we are going to get the plans and money approved by the end of this parliament [2020] but to get the project from plan to completion before the election would be unlikely.

“What I am keen to get it into the programme during this parliament is for the groundwork to start in the next parliament.

“As your readers will know it took a lot of planning to get the current dualling underway, so we want to get on with this.

“It is a very important piece of road and it is our next target.”

The Minister said the 3.2 mile journey between Kippings Cross and Pembury had made him aware of the bottlenecks faced by drivers along the road and the high volume of traffic.

Mr Jones said the Government was about to embark on planning for its second road investment strategy. He warned, however, there was no guarantee the project would be chosen.

“There are a very large number of schemes that we need to do across the country and we have to priorities them,” he explained.

“How we do this will be on the business case and what the public will get for their money.

“We will look at time saved, congestion saved and about what it will open up in terms of commercial and residential development.

“Transport has to be help solve a problem and bring economic regeneration to an area. We are not building roads and tunnels and bridges for the sake of it.”

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