Highways Agency continues to work on sinkhole shutting off the M2 between Faversham and Sittingbourne
Commuters are facing more chaos on Kent's roads this evening as the huge M2 sinkhole continues to cause gridlock.
A government minister today inspected the 15ft deep hole that has swallowed up the road surface on a section of the motorway near Faversham.
Traffic gridlock was still expected around the M2 sinkhole - despite the hard shoulders and one lane being opened to morning rush hour traffic.
The sinkhole after being filled with 40 tonnes of pea shingle
Now transport minister Robert Goodwill has visited the crater, which has caused huge tailbacks over several days.
Mr Goodwill was asked by the Prime Minister to see why it was taking so long to get the problem fixed.
"My initial reaction was, well just fill it with concrete, but if that had happened you could have found a big plug of concrete that at some point in the future could have just dropped..." - transport minister Robert Goodwill
He said: "I've since found out that it's important to find out what's caused this and they've filled the hole with gravel and that will enable them to detect whether it's getting any worse.
"If the gravel continues to go down, obviously there's more erosion underneath the hole.
"My initial reaction was, well just fill it with concrete, but if that had happened you could have found a big plug of concrete that at some point in the future could have just dropped if erosion was continuing.
"If the gravel does start to fall (in the hole) then we've got a much bigger problem, if it remains stable then it's possible we can get the whole road back into operation.
"Of course, what we don't want is a carriageway collapse and vehicles going down a hole so we need to err on the side of caution so the traveling public are safe."
The Highways Agency announced today that it had opened lane one and the hard shoulder London-bound and the hard shoulder coast-bound.
But the rest of the motorway could stay shut for another 48 hours while a sinkhole investigation continues.
Thousands of drivers are still expected to experience nightmare journeys as work continues to repair the huge hole, between Sittingbourne and Faversham.
Transport minister Robert Goodwill at the sinkhole site. Picture: Department of Transport
A Highways Agency worker at the scene
The hole was yesterday filled with 40 tonnes of pea shingle - but highways staff are still investigating the ground under the road.
For the latest traffic bulletins listen to kmfm's travel updates
A Highways Agency spokesman said an assessment had been carried out into the cavity, which had been filled with pea shingle to stabilise the hole.
He continued: "That assessment, which is likely to take at least another 48 hours, will be carried out in and around the hole.
The sinkhole is in the central reservation
"For the safety of road users and road workers lanes one and two of the motorway will remain closed."
Work was carried out yesterday to ensure the hard shoulder was ready and suitable for traffic and that all the necessary equipment for the assessment is on site ready for use.
Work's under way on the M2 to repair the sinkhole. Picture: Simon Burchett
But, even with both hard shoulders open, there are expected to be delays in the area.
Road users are urged to continue using the diversion via the A249, M20, A20, A252 and A251.
Stories you might have missed
- Click here for more Canterbury news
- Click here for more news from across the county