Anyone travelling past the Tesco superstore will have spotted that work on the new Junction 10A has already started in earnest. This is a junction which, when I first became Ashford’s MP twenty years ago, was promised “in seven years’ time”. It has taken a lot of effort to get this far, so I was pleased to be able to look at the progress at first hand last week.
So far the work is still mainly about clearing the ground. The first task is to ensure that a high-pressure gas main can be moved to make way for one of the new slip road bridges. This has to be done in the summer when gas demand is lower, so it is the first big task.
Inevitably there are environmental and archaeological considerations, as in any big building project. Newts are being guided along tunnels to safe areas, birds are being discouraged from nesting by green netting, and, most surprisingly, human skeletons are being discovered. I saw one which is thought to be Saxon, about to be removed for safe keeping and further tests.
Of course the work will in the immediate future involve lane restrictions and other inconveniences. But we should keep in our minds the long-term benefits. Directly, these will include a reduction of pressure on Junction 10, with benefits for the William Harvey, and the creation of a better junction at the end of Barrey Road, which has been a problem for years.
More widely, the new junction unlocks the potential for development of a large part of the Sevington area. This will mean that thousands of new jobs can be created, not only good in themselves but reducing the need for so many people to commute out of Ashford. It will, I hope, be worth the long wait when Junction 10A opens next year.