M25 at Junction 8 – 2020 major roadworks

Update from SCC Cllrs Zully Grant-Duff and Jeff Harris

Following two very extensive meetings with Highways England to discuss the above, its implications on local traffic and to put forward local residents concerns, I’m writing to give you an update. Highways England are the organisation responsible for the project implementation (design and actual work) on behalf of the Department for Transport.

The works are anticipated to last 50 weeks and to begin early 2020. The project is totally financed by Highways England with funding from the Department for Transport.

There is no doubt the works represent a considerable inconvenience to local residents and motorway users in general and will most likely increase traffic congestion while they are in progress. It is however worth noting there are actual benefits for residents locally and Surrey-wide, and they include a safer junction, better traffic management, new road surfacing and signage, all of which would otherwise have had to be paid from local taxes.

There will be comprehensive public communication before the start of the works and while they are in progress, via Highways England website, mobile variable message signs such as those on the A217 central verge, social media, and Motorway signs. All local schools and hospitals impacted by the work will be kept regularly informed by Highways England contractors through a stakeholder regular update.

Major works are urgently needed to the bridge over the motorway as the structure’s waterproof membrane is now defunct and this is causing damage to the concrete. The signalling equipment at the junction is now 20 years old and in danger of failing completely if it is not modernized. The road surface of the bridge is now breaking up and it needs substantial repairs beyond just simple re-surfacing.

The current three lanes across the bridge section are just too narrow to take larger vehicles. This makes matters far worse for A217 traffic north and south. Vehicles block the entry/exit points from the bridges causing further tail backs. The tail back from the western section (anti-clockwise exit) often encroaches onto the Motorway with the significant danger of serious collisions. The current ‘trunking’ duct under the bridge across the motorway holding all the utilities is at capacity with ducting for water, gas, electricity, telecommunications, etc. There is an urgent need to increase capacity to accommodate expanding services such as optical fibre broadband. The current exit onto Gatton Bottom Lane is too narrow and poorly designed.

However, the main outstanding issues for us, representing our communities, include:
(i) The Project could now last up to 50 weeks, even allowing for 24/7 working at times. This obviously takes it up until Christmas 2020, but hopefully it will finish well before.
(ii) Access and egress to and from the A217 from the Site Logistics Base – We discussed with Highways England and their contractors and asked them to explore the suggestion to move the entrance onto the M25 slip road from the clockwise carriageway, but this is not feasible for engineering reasons, and would be very costly.
(iii) HGV’s travelling round the Reigate one-way system and back up the hill – In fact, the number of HGV Lorries using the entrance/exit will be no more than 2 per hour. However, during the first and last month of the project there will be extra HGV movements amounting to an increase of 2% in traffic movement in the Town Centre.
(iv) Timing of closures of the junction/lanes on the bridges – This is all about expediency and safety of workers. The periods of closure are in two parts – nearside working and offside working, and then full reinstatement of the waterproofing and finally road surfacing-with the highest spec surface which will be guaranteed for 10 years.
(v) The elongated diversion for several weeks for vehicles exiting the M25 anti-clockwise and wishing to go down the A217 for Reigate, having to travel north round the Babylon Lane Roundabout and back to the M25 – We discussed any options to change this, bearing in mind the amount of traffic between 7.30 am and 9.00 am weekday mornings travelling south along the A217. We challenged their modelling on this and pointed out the impact on Lower Kingswood, Kingswood and Tadworth residents. There just doesn’t seem to be any alternative, but the Project Team agreed to increase signage, information and monitor it so the traffic signals at the Motorway can be adjusted.

We did ask that ALL those affected, including schools and businesses are kept up to date. There will be a comprehensive Communications Plan. Once works commence, 24/7 working will take place where possible.

We were satisfied after the meetings that Highways England and SCC Surrey Highways had considered our reservations and, in some cases, changed their plans to accommodate us. In summary, there is no question that the project needs to go ahead quite urgently and, despite all our reservations, we agreed the least harmful ways of working are being used. We will be keeping a close eye on developments and letting residents know of any updates in the meantime.

Note: To visit Highways England to learn more about the works proposed click here.
November 18, 2019