Work will start tonight to remove the contraflow on the London bound carriageway – part of what is known as Operation Brock - and is due to be completed in time for the Easter getaway next weekend.
The decision was taken in the light of the reduced threat of disruption to services across the English Channel in the coming weeks and has been endorsed by the Kent Resilience Forum.
Highways England special operations director Duncan Smith said:
Operation Brock gives the people of Kent a scalable set of measures that helps them to live, work and travel around the county when there is disruption to services across the English Channel. The deployment of the contraflow on the M20 has been a prudent measure reflecting the threat of potential disruption. Scaling it back now is a sensible response to the changing outlook, and restores capacity on the motorway in time for the Easter bank holiday weekend. We are grateful to drivers and residents in Kent for their patience while the contraflow is in place and for driving safely.
A steel barrier which was installed on the Londonbound carriageway to implement the contraflow between junction 8 and junction 9 will remain in place should Operation Brock be required again in the coming months.
Once the contraflow is deactivated there will be three lanes running coastbound at national speed limit and two lanes running Londonbound at 50mph.
Overnight closures starting tonight will be necessary to enable the deactivation work to take place safely. The contraflow on the Londonbound carriageway will remain in place while traffic management is removed from the coastbound carriageway.
During the overnight closures clearly signed diversions will be in place. Londonbound closures will be between junctions 10 and junction 7, with a diversion in place via A20. Coastbound closures will be between junction 7 and 9 with a diversion via the A249 and the M2. Only one carriageway will be closed at any one time. The first closure will be on the coastbound carriageway tonight between 8pm and 6am.
Drivers planning to travel when the M20 is closed should check conditions before setting out and allow more time for their journeys if needed.
Operation Brock remains available for use as an alternative to the older Operation Stack, and offers significant improvements by keeping the M20 open to traffic in both directions.
Operation Brock is the name for a package of measures aimed at helping to improve the resilience of the roads in Kent to the effects of cross-channel disruption. As well as the M20 contraflow it also includes Manston Airfield and the M26.
Highways England has worked in close partnership with Kent Police, Kent County Council and the Department for Transport to ensure that each phase of Operation Brock could be deployed sequentially and scaled up or down to meet demand.
Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.