Work has begun on a £6.65 million scheme to improve the A2500 Lower Road on the Isle of Sheppey.
The first phase will see a roundabout constructed replacing the existing traffic light-controlled junction between Lower Road and Barton Hill Drive.
The roundabout has been designed to include a fourth turning off point, which could provide access to the proposed development site, west of Barton Hill Drive.
This work, which started on June 25, is planned to be completed by January.
An inaugural ground-breaking ceremony was held with KCC cabinet member for highways and transport Mike Whiting, Gordon Henderson MP and Leader of Swale Borough Council Andrew Bowles today (June 29).
The second phase will see the widening of the Lower Road from the A249 at Cowstead Corner to Barton Hill Drive and will include a new path and cycleway along the northside of the road.
Mr Whiting said: “The Lower Road is a key road on Sheppey, and any issue at this junction can cause gridlock across the Island. For that reason, I’m delighted to see work on this long-awaited and much-needed roundabout beginning today.
“I am grateful to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), Swale Borough Council and of course the local Member of Parliament, Gordon Henderson MP, for working with KCC to secure the funding for this scheme.
“This is a big scheme and there will undoubtedly be some disruption while it is being built. I can only apologise for that and ask people to bear with us while it is being constructed.”
The roundabout is being funded by £1.26 million from the Department of Transport (DfT) through funding known as Local Growth Fund (LGF) allocated to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and contributions from local developments.
Mr Henderson said: “I am delighted that at long last work has begun on this much needed improvement to the Lower Road. Islanders have put up with congestion caused by an inadequate junction at the bottom of Barton’s Hill Road for far too long.
“I have been campaigning since becoming MP for a solution to the daily problems faced by my constituents and I am grateful for the support given to me in that campaign by Island borough and county councillors; and local parish councils, particularly Minster Parish Council.
“I am grateful also for the Government for coming up with the funding for the development, and local farmer, Stephen Atwood, for contributing some of his land to enable the scheme to progress.”
Phase 2 will follow, funded by a further £3.2 million provided from the National Productivity Investment Fund together with further contributions from local developments.
The roundabout construction will be done with limited traffic management though the connection to Barton Hill Drive will require a temporary road closure.
This is planned for late August for 12 weeks and the diversion route will be via Thistle Hill Way and Plover Road.
Works will take place during normal working hours but some activities such as resurfacing may be carried out at night.
Leader of Swale Borough Council Cllr Andrew Bowles said: “It’s great to see work getting underway to help tackle congestion on this key stretch of road. Residents have been extremely patient whilst both Swale and Kent have worked to find the funding for the much-needed improvements.
“This is a key stretch of road for local people and visitors, so I’m pleased the work programme has addressed our concerns about potential disruption and do as much as possible off the carriageway until the busy summer season is finished.
“With other regeneration schemes making good progress, we are already hoping to increase our focus to helping boost the Island’s economy.”