Fed-up motorists slam new layout on Mill Way, Sittingbourne, following Morrisons opening
Angry motorists have found themselves trapped in car parks for
up to an hour as the new Mill Way road layout causes chaos.
One shopper says he had to abandon his car at the weekend and
walk to the railway station where he caught a taxi home – returning
hours later when the congestion had cleared.
Problems have been going on for weeks following the revamp of
the road network as part of the Morrisons’ development.
But issues came to a head last Saturday afternoon as
thousands of people visited the new store and the nearby
Sittingbourne Retail Park.
Those stuck say traffic lights, which have replaced the
roundabout, seem to have been wrongly phased and the road layout
failed to cope with so much traffic.
Highways chiefs say they will monitor the situation around
the new Mill Way road layout and make changes if needed.
The pledge comes after weeks of frustration came to a head at
The area was so swamped, motorists were left trying to escape
the car parks for up to an hour and surrounding roads were
Shopper Michael Peters said: “Rather than join the queues and
sit there, wasting precious time with my engine running for ages, I
abandoned my car, steamed off to the railway station and took a
“With traffic blocking both lanes in front and behind people,
the famous British patience was being tried to the utmost.”
“In the evening after the shops had shut, whilst striding back
to collect my vehicle, I pondered on the thousands of hours, wasted
by hordes of people trapped in those long queues since all this
Despite Morrisons opening on January 28, temporary traffic
lights remained in place until the permanent ones were switched on
However, less than 24 hours after going live the signals were
down for an hour after the power supply was disconnected.
KCC’s highways transport and development manager, Nasser
Sarrafan, said: “The works on Mill Way to build an entrance to the
new Morrisons’ site were carried out by a contractor on behalf of
the supermarket chain.
“Power for the two sets of traffic lights, at Crown Quay Lane
and Mill Way, was cut for a time on Friday afternoon when the
energy supplier disconnected them.
“In terms of the road scheme layout, a final assessment will be
made to make sure it is working as planned and as efficiently as
possible. This audit will identify any necessary changes or
Motorist Graham Jones, who was also trapped on Saturday, said:
“The whole area is becoming a no-go zone. Businesses must be losing
“Plus Chalkwell Road is experiencing extra traffic it can’t cope
with as people avoid the retail park and Morrisons.”
Some people, including borough Labour leader, Cllr Roger
Truelove, believed the traffic flowed better while the lights were
out of action.
A Morrisons' spokesman said: “KCC designed and approved the new
road layout and contractors simply implemented it.
“The timings for the signals are also the responsibility of the
council who are able to monitor and adjust them.”
Gordon Henderson MP says he wants to see the present traffic
light phasing changed as a matter of urgency.
He said: “I would also like to see the inside lane heading west
past Morrisons changed to access to the store, rather than allowing
straight ahead traffic as it does now.
“I think those who designed the junction missed a trick by not
adding in an east-bound slip road out of the retail park.
“There is plenty of room for such a road, but instead they have
constructed two footpaths. That was a mistake.”
County and borough councillor Mike Whiting says the traffic
situation has been a nightmare for local businesses and
He said: “I will be closely monitoring the situation and if
necessary will demand the reinstatement of the roundabout.”
Labour leader Cllr Roger Truelove said: “The developers withdrew
their earlier commitment to a pedestrian flyover from the mill site
to the retail park. That prompted KCC to put in lights instead of
He said simply restoring the roundabout would cause
difficulties, adding: “Sittingbourne town centre needs the
completion of the northern relief road.”
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