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Balfour Beatty’s A21 major upgrade from Tonbridge to Pembury officially open

Balfour Beatty, the international infrastructure group, has officially opened its major A21 upgrade project for Highways England.

The upgrade to the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury has provided drivers with a new dual carriageway, speeding up journeys, improving safety, reducing congestion and boosting the economy.

The A21 runs through an Area of Natural Outstanding Beauty (AONB) and has significant cultural heritage. The road improvements were carried out to the highest environmental standards, with twice the amount of woodland being translocated as was removed from the project, and cutting-edge techniques used to preserve its ecological makeup. New areas of heathland have been created in addition to 6m high temporary fencing to help guide bats travelling over the new road while new planting becomes established, 900 metres of noise barrier environmental fencing and four wildlife ponds.

With a focus on technology across Balfour Beatty, the project saw the use of Hololens technology to support the design of a new footbridge on the scheme. The innovative technology enables users to visualise an asset before it has been built, providing the opportunity to foresee any challenges which might arise.

Throughout the duration of the project, the scheme created 11 graduate placements, five apprenticeships and six work experience placements. The Balfour Beatty site team has also helped over 200 school children to understand road safety by providing talks to local schools surrounding the project.

Highways England Regional Investment Programme Director, David Haimes, said: “This is another missing link in the country’s road network filled in. For decades, the single carriageway section of the A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury has been a source of daily congestion, delaying drivers and frustrating business who depend on the road. That changes today. These A21 improvements are another great achievement for Highways England’s delivery of the first Road Investment Strategy, the biggest road investment for a generation. I hope the people of Kent enjoy driving on their new improved A21.”

George Pargeter, Balfour Beatty Project Director for the A21 Tonbridge to Pembury Project, said: “We are delighted to announce the completion of the A21 project, enabling the local community and travelling public to enjoy the benefits of the new dual carriageway. This has been a complex project which presented a number of challenges, however, our expertise and collaboration with Highways England has enabled us to successfully and safely deliver a high quality, more streamlined route connecting Hastings and London.”