Published: 12:00, 12 October 2017
Emergency water main repairs have created chaos for motorists.
Engineers from Clancy Docwra have closed part of Sheerness High Street where it meets Halfway Road at the bridge over the canal.
Traffic going into the town from Halfway is being diverted 10 miles via Halfway Road, Minster Road, The Broadway Minster, Marine Parade, Broadway, Trinity Road, Cavour Road and Invicta Road.
The diversion caused huge traffic jams this morning and is likely to be repeated tonight.
The road was closed by Kent County Council yesterday (Wednesday) to allow Southern Water to repair a damaged 11-inch main which serves the town.
Workers say it was damaged by gas engineers back in August.
A specialist team from Derby was called to bypass the main so residents and shops could still have water before repair work could start. It is expected to take up to two weeks.
Clancy Docwra’s team leader Steven Fox said: “We are working as quickly as we can. Obviously residents and motorist aren’t happy.
“This repair could not be in a more inconvenient location. It is also very rare to have an 11-inch main. It is the only one of its kind in the entire Southern Water area.”
The repairs have also brought major disruption to Island bus services.
Coach company Arriva said today: "We are expecting significant disruption to our services because of this."
There will be no stopping at Cavour Road, Fire Station, Coronation Road, Sheerness Holiday Park, Powerstation Road, Danley Road, Halfway Road, Halfway Traffic Lights (both directions) and Queenborough Road.
The 360 and 362 services towards Minster and Leysdown will run via Brielle Way and Queenborough Road in both directions. Buses to and from Rushenden will also run via Brielle Way.
Stops on Halfway Road and Queenborough Road will not be served. Passengers at these stops wanting Queenborough or Rushenden should use the 368 bus and those wanting to go to Sheerness should use the 334 service.
To add to the misery, Kent Highways is closing Brielle Way, the other entrance to Sheerness, over Friday night for bridge works at Blue Town.
Minster High Street and Back Lane is also being closed from 7am to 7pm tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday for road surfacing. A diversion will be in place.
Swale Cllr Cameron Beart (Con, Queenborough and halfway) today appealed for the Brielle Way closure to be postponed. He said: “I have this morning contacted Kent Highways to request that the planned closure of Brielle Way this weekend is postponed.
“Although the works would be carried out over night between 8pm and 6am, I have grave concerns that with both of these routes closed, the amount of traffic diverted through Halfway will be too much for our local roads to cope with as vehicles try to get to the coast road and into Sheerness.”
Denise Griffin of Royal Taxis warned: "This is going to cause total chaos. The whole town is going to be cut off. It is a disaster waiting to happen."
Today retired businessman Eric Montague Williams, 84, from Sheerness High Street called for the head of Cllr Matthew Balfour, Kent County Council's cabinet member for highways.
Mr Williams said: "Whoever is responsible for allowing all these road closures at the same time should be sacked."
He added: "The only road closure signs I have seen for the canal are right on the roadworks. There is no advance warning and nothing to tell motorists this state of affairs is likely to last for a fortnight. It is ridiculous."
Sheppey has suffered a string of water leaks over the past two years beginning in January 2016 when the Island was cut off after its principle main burst beneath the A249 at Sittingbourne.
Other leaks include:
July – The Leas, Minster
February – Main carrying water across the Kingsferry Bridge
June – Burst main outside Oasis plumbers in Sheerness High Street
August – Main at the canal damaged by gas repairers
September – Burst main outside Castle tavern in Sheerness High Street
October – Repairs at the canal
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