**for the latest update, see bottom of page**
The A26 Tonbridge Road “sunk” near the junction with Fountain Road on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon.
An emergency road closure between Fountain Lane and Terminus Road was put in place to ensure the safety of road users and the public.
The current road closure attempts to pick up as much traffic as possible at the A20 in Maidstone and divert it along the A20 London Road to the A228 Ashton Way/Malling Road to effectively bypass the closure at the A26 Tonbridge Road.
A diversion will continue to be maintained close to the closure points to assist remaining traffic, and those wishing to access Maidstone Hospital, using Queens Road, the A20 London Road and Hermitage Lane.
Preliminary investigations have indicated that the extent of the void is 240sqm (20 metres by 12 metres wide) and may extend to depths of 2-3m in places.
The suspected total area has been marked up on site but may extend as the investigatory work progresses.
At this stage it is not possible to determine the cause of the void or how long it will take to repair.
Although a 21 day closure has been advertised, this is the maximum legal duration for a Traffic Regulation Notice (TRN) for emergency closures.
This can be extended if necessary and is not an indication of timescales for repair which, at the moment, are unknown.
KCC has a duty to maintain the highway in a safe condition and on this basis has taken on the role of coordinating the initial investigatory works.
Work has been going on throughout the week to assess the extent of unstable ground and to allow KCC to determine safe points for heavy digging machinery to work.
Maidstone Borough Council has been liaising with residents whose properties may be affected by the void and have advised evacuation where necessary.
Residents have also been encouraged to contact their insurer should they have any concerns about property damage arising from the void.
The following bus services are directly affected and will operate to the diversion routes.
- Arriva : Service 3 – will divert via Queens Rd, London Rd A20, Hermitage Lane B2246 to Maidstone Hospital
- Arriva : Service 6/7 – will divert via St Michael’s Rd, Upper Fant Rd, Hackney Rd, Gatland Lane and Farleigh Lane
- Arriva : Service 6X – will divert via Hermitage Lane, London Road and A20
- Arriva : Service 575 – will divert via A20 and Queens Road (not serving Hermitage Lane)
- Nu-Venture : Service 6A – will divert via Fant Lane, Gatland Lane and Glebe Lane
- Nu-Venture : Service 6A – will divert via Farleigh Lane, Gatland Lane and Hartnup Street
- Nu Venture : Service 78 – will divert via Farleigh Lane, Gatland Lane and Hartnup Street
- Nu Venture : Service 88 – will divert via Farleigh Lane, Gatland Lane and Hartnup Street
It is also advised that these and all other services in the Maidstone area are likely to suffer from increased running times.
The early part of next week is expected to be particularly busy as many people travel for the first time after the school holidays following the closure.
Operators will consider the need for temporary timetable changes once the precise impact on running times becomes clearer.
Latest update (June 8):
Activities to investigate the site are continuing and a number of smaller voids have been investigated, stabilised and temporarily filled to protect them and the utilities within.
KCC has now confirmed that only two voids remain at the site, at this stage, and is awaiting South East Water to isolate and divert the mains water line running through the affected area.
KCC is unable to continue excavations and investigations of the identified voids at this time until this main is diverted, to mitigate any risks to the fresh water supply to the hospital once capped and removed.
It is expected that this will be completed by the end of this week, but as always this is depending on a number of factors.
Once the fresh water main has been isolated, capped and removed, KCC can commence ground investigations and stabilisation with a view to Southern Water replacing the sewer at this location, and KCC hopes this is commenced next week.
Other utilities such as gas and electricity have been able to modify and shut off their apparatus as required, with minimal disruption to customers, and will now await the instatement of the road formation before undertaking further works.
Once ground stabilisation is completed, and the sewer replaced, KCC will then look to reinstate the road formation up to 600mm below the original surface.
Utilities, including South East Water, will then replace their lines, ducts and apparatus as appropriate and once this is completed Kent County Council can then reinstate the road proper.
The priority for the moment is South East Water isolating and capping the fresh water main, after which KCC will remove this and recommence investigations and complete ground stabilisations as quickly as possible.
At the current time there are no definite timescales available for when the works will be completed and the road reopened.
KCC provisionally estimates the works will take up to a further six weeks to complete.