The construction of J10a will unlock job-creating developments, improve journeys, and open the door to further inward economic investment for communities along the Channel Corridor.
Since the project was given the go ahead in December 2017, final preparation for starting construction this year has been underway and work has now started on setting up a site compound ahead of main construction starting in the spring.
It is one of four major improvements that will get underway across the South East in the first six months of 2018. Between now and June, work will also start on three smart motorway upgrades in Kent, the Solent and on the M23 near Gatwick. Together valued at over £550m, they will add around 65 miles of new lanes, increasing capacity by a third, and introducing new technology to tackle congestion and keep drivers informed.
Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “These upgrades in the South East will improve millions of journeys. Each of these milestones in the region is evidence of Highways England delivering major infrastructure upgrades for the whole country.”
Cllr Gerry Clarkson, leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “The start of the works is yet more good news for the town and another example of the momentum in Ashford’s transformation. Our Big 8 projects are all moving forward and the future is looking very bright indeed.
“Ashford Borough Council has long campaigned for the delivery of extra road transport capacity to cater for the town’s future needs. Junction 10a is another piece of the borough’s integrated transport infrastructure jigsaw to fall into place.
“The government’s decision to approve the long-awaited junction will be a catalyst for economic and commercial development in Ashford, creating job opportunities and improving the infrastructure of the town. The start of works on the ground is a demonstration of the hard work now coming to fruition.”
Christian Brodie, chairman of South East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Alongside the funding from Highways England, we have earmarked £19.7m of our Growth Deal monies for this vital piece of infrastructure.
“When completed it will support the on-going growth and economic success of Ashford and the wider East Kent economy through unlocking new employment sites and the delivery of new homes.
“Working with our partners at the Kent & Medway Economic Partnership and Ashford Borough Council, SELEP has been able to help secure significant funding and backing for Ashford.”