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M2 closed between Faversham and Sittingbourne by Highways Agency due to emergency roadworks with diversion via Charing and Challock

11 February 2014
by Gazette reporter

Thousands of motorists are continuing to experience travel misery on the M2 after a huge hole opened up earlier today. 

With the road set to remain closed in both directions until tomorrow afternoon, one theory is that the giant chasm was caused by the current extreme wet weather. 

The AA said today's drama was the first such incident since the M2 opened in 1965.

Spokesman Paul Watters added: "I am not aware of any previous collapses so perhaps this is yet another casualty of the exceptionally wet weather.

"We hope the Highways Agency can quickly resolve the problem as this is a key route to the port of Dover and to east Kent."

The 15ft hole has brought chaos to Kent's road network into the night. 

It has left the motorway shut in both directions and sparked long delays as Highways Agency engineers investigate the hole, which measures 16ft by 6ft. The agency initially said the hole was almost 50ft deep.

The huge hole that has opened up on the M2. Picture Highways Agency

The huge hole that opened up on the M2. Picture: Highways Agency

Miraculously, the hole avoided the carriageways on both sides by inches and no motorists were hurt.

Drivers are urged to avoid the area because of the emergency roadworks - which could take 24 hours to complete - between junctions five and six.

Even celebrity baker Paul Hollywood couldn't avoid getting caught up in the jams.

The TV star, who lives in Kent, tweeted that he had become trapped in the queues.

Other motorists heading to and from Dover are advised to use the M20. A diversion is in place via the A249, the M20, the A20, the A252 and the A251.

Other motorists have spoken of their frustration at being caught up in the huge delays.

Craig Tidy had been travelling from Whitstable to Maidstone when he became caught up in the tailback. 

He said: "I turned off at Faversham and tried to navigate my way around the back roads, but it was absolute chaos. I got home four hours after setting off."

A Highways Agency spokesman said: "The hole, between junctions 5 and 6, measures approximately five metres by two metres and 15 feet deep.

"The Highways Agency and its contractors are working hard to investigate the hole and the necessary repairs and will reopen lanes as soon as it is safe to do so."

Closed section of the M2. Picture Highways Agency

Closed section of the M2. Picture: Highways Agency

The road was closed shortly after 1pm and delays quickly began to build.

It is now expected to be shut until at least 2pm tomorrow.

For those heading coastbound, motorists are being told to exit at junction five and take the A249 south to the M20 (junction seven).

They should leave the M20 at junction eight before taking the A20 east to Charing and join the A252 north.

At Challock, they should take the A251 north to junction six of the M2. This route is marked with signs showing a solid black circle.

For the London-bound M2, drivers should take the same route in reverse, marked with a solid black square - joining the M20 at junction eight before taking the A249 to the M2.

By 10pm, queues were still stretching back to junction four east-bound.

KentOnline and kmfm will bring you the latest updates as they happen throughout tomorrow. 

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