Darnley Arches improvements face further delays
People in Strood have waited more than 13 years for a major
roads project but they will have to wait at least one more.
A new delay over a planned pedestrian tunnel and road widening
at the Darnley Arches, a well-known traffic bottleneck, has been
slammed as a “blunder” by a professional engineer.
Supermarket firm Morrison pledged £500,000 for the project but
it has still not happened –despite the road being closed for 13
days over Christmas to replace the rail bridge and gas pipes.
The closure caused traffic chaos, as well as cancelling all
trains on the Rochester to Victoria line, so another closure will
not now be allowed until Easter 2014.
Yet the cash, £154,000 of which has already gone on planning,
has to be spent by August 2014 or it will be lost.
Structural engineering consultant Andrew Millsom, who has
advised Network Rail on other projects, raised questions at a
Medway Council meeting.
He said: “Who will lead an investigation into how this blunder
occurred? Will the report show persons culpable, and what action
will be taken against them?”
Despite the large sum pledged by Morrisons, council officials
say it is not enough as building a tunnel will now cost £1.3m.
Roads chief Cllr Phil Filmer (Con) said: “We are at the moment
working with consultants and trying to sort [it out] as we see it
as a priority, but this certainly wasn’t a blunder.”
Regeneration chief Cllr Jane Chitty (Con) said the bridge
replacement had to take priority, saying: “This bridge had to be
dealt with immediately. It was in a very serious condition.
“It was a matter of health and safety and couldn’t be
Strood South ward member Cllr Isaac Igwe (Lab) claimed there had
clearly been a “communication issue” between the council and
Speaking after the meeting, former Liberal Democrat council
candidate Mr Millsom, 45, of Windmill Street, Frindsbury, said: “I
came mainly as a professional watching incompetence and knowing no
one is going to be held to account for this abject failure.
“If I did what they’re doing I doubt many people would be using
my consultancy services again.”
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