M2 Junction 5 / A249
Without doubt, everyone regardless of political party acknowledges that the M2 Junction 5 / A249 roundabout is the most relevant and strategically important transport issue in Swale.
What might surprise you however is the fact that Swale Borough Council are reluctant to resolve this because it contends that freeing up this junction would create problems further along the network at the M20 Junction 7, which is undoubtedly true, but surely leaves Swale a long way up the creek without the proverbial paddle.
And here is another fact that you might find hard to believe, the transport modelling indicated that even with the Sittingbourne Southern Relief Road and new M2 Junction 5A the level of traffic using the roundabout will increase and the level of traffic using the M2 also increases by a whopping 40%.
So what's the plan?
While Swale Borough Council is proposing that "some short term relief to the junction will be provided by construction of an additional length of southbound lane on the A249 in conjunction with nearby development."
They also then contend that the "longer term solution is to rebalance and expand the network away from M2/Junction 5"
Highlighting the problems
"Congestion is likely to increase at M2/Junction 5 ... but modelling suggests the junction will not fail given the proposed development strategy."
Swale Local Plan
"In July 2009, as an additional item of work, Jacobs were asked to review the potential for an alternative junction (5a) which could be associated with the Kent Science Park. The principle behind this intervention was to provide a Sittingbourne Southern Relief Road and effectively bypass the A249 and M2 Junction 5 completely. Such an improvement would be extremely expensive to provide and would provide only a partial
solution to the traffic problems at Stockbury."
"Study work for the Local Plan and LDF has revealed that M2 Junction 5 has the potential to act as a brake on development in Swale."
and on costs
"in excess of £100 million for the alternative junction 5a and Southern Relief Road."
Swale Joint Transportation Board
12th March 2012
What are the alternatives?
The Borough Council maintains that delivery of a solution for Junction 5 is so expensive that it is simply a non-starter. But meetings I've attended demonstrate that alternatives not only exist, but are potentially a great deal less expansive that the Southern Relief Road / Junction 5A proposal whose benefits are far from certain.
A solution with a fly over which would provide a continuous A249 over the existing roundabout stands out the most and which, according to Kent Highways, would only cost half of the projected cost of the Southern Relief Road.