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Old Chatham Road project 'waste of KCC cash'

A retired civil engineer has hit out at what he perceives to be Kent Highways wasting of the public purse.

Ken Bowman, a keen cyclist, takes regular trips between Medway and Maidstone using the Old Chatham Road - the road that used to be the main highway between the towns before the Blue Bell Hill dual carriageway was built 50 years ago.

After the dualling, the old road became something of a backwater, though it retained a good quality 10m-wide carriageway.

The final scheme
The final scheme

Over the years the section between the Shell garage on the Maidstone-bound carriageway and Tyland Lane became a popular stopping spot for lunching motorists, but also for HGV drivers: which gradually incensed neighbouring home owners at the Maidstone end of the road who had to cope with the noise, litter and sometimes even human excrement that the drivers left behind.

In 2016, KCC installed a trial scheme to prevent the lorries parking - blocking off one side of the carriageway with plastic cones.

Mr Bowman, 80, said; "I couldn't believe it. There was a forest of plastic reflector bollards - hundreds of them.

"At first I was amused, but then angry that all this money - it cost £40,000 - was being wasted on a project that was bound to fail."

It was all too easy for HGVs to flatten the plastic bollards.

The original 2016 scheme (7060440)
The original 2016 scheme (7060440)

In 2018, KCC returned to engineer a "permanent solution."

That involved using an excavator to dig a metre-wide channel into the sub-structure at the centre of the carriageway, building two parallel stone kerbs and then infilling them with concrete, to create an island that offending vehicles would have to bump over.

To deter them from attempting that, further bollards have been installed in the middle of the lengthy island.

The new scheme cost £115,000.

The construction last year
The construction last year

Mr Bowman, who is still a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, insists the whole thing has been over-engineered. He said: "The same effect could have been created with a single upstanding kerb, requiring a fraction of the degree of concrete used.

"Then again they've installed another 230 or so plastic bollards. What about the future maintenance cost of these? You have a job to drive anywhere without spotting the remains of smashed plastic bollard at the side of a the road.

"It's a waste of money, plus of course the £40,000 spent on the first scheme was completely wasted."

Mr Bowman is so incensed, he has even released a video about it on You Tube.

KCC said that widespread abuse of the parking in the road had caused an increasing nuisance to both the local community and to the environment in the form antisocial behaviour.

In addition when the parking was full lorries had begun to park on both sides of the road obstructing the highway, which remained a bus route.

The initial scheme had always been intended as an interim measure in response to an urgent need.

*What do you think? Email ajsmith@thekmgroup.co.uk

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