Residents have dubbed their town “the world’s biggest car park” after term-time roadworks brought traffic grinding to a halt.
Part of Lower Rainham Road in Rainham is closed for two weeks, until Sunday, July 9, for cable-laying works.
Works along the busy road, which is used by commuters and parents on the school run, and in adjoining streets Lower Bloors Lane and Pump Lane are scheduled from now until October.
The works are part of broadband network CityFibre’s £40m project to bring faster internet to Medway and is being carried out by construction partner Lanes-i.
The road is shut to through-traffic but access to properties within the closure will still be available. A diversion route will be put in place.
Nearby Station Road resident Kara Maplesden said: “It’s taken me over an hour to get from Rainham to my work in Brompton, which is usually a 15 minute journey along Lower Rainham Road.
“I also witnessed awful scenes in the morning, a parent with young children trying to cross the bottom of Station Road, drivers being inpatient with each other weaving between parked cars.
“I stopped to let the parents and children cross and was instantly beeped at.
“Please be a little more patient on Station Road at the moment, I’d hate to see a child or parent hurt due to pure selfishness and impatience.”
Another resident, who did not want to be named, said: “It was savage this morning. I might just walk until the end of term. I'm shocked there were no accidents today to be honest, the way people were driving.”
Local courier Wez Rossiter said: “Rainham is officially the world’s biggest car park. It’s definitely the worst I’ve seen it. The roads aren’t built for the volume of traffic.
“The past 18 months have been hell due to the ongoing works, now they are on the Lower Rainham Road phase the traffic will be just as bad as the A249/M2 works.
“Although they’re efficient doing the works, picking term time is a complete disaster for everyone.
“Spare a thought for your delivery drivers as we are all running behind and doing the best we can to get to you on time.”
Dave Harrison, who lives near Mierscourt Farm Shop, said it took him an hour to drive the 2.6 miles homes from Breach Lane in Sittingbourne – a “nightmare” journey which should take less than 10 minutes.
He added: “It’s a complete shambles. The A2 was static from the Tuck Inn at the top of Breach Lane through Rainham. Wakely Road was jammed and not moving. Ottershaw Quay up to the A2 wasn’t moving.
“Roadworks along the lower road block it so traffic has to go up Berengrave Lane, and that was also not moving.”
“Rainham is officially the world’s biggest car park”
Adrian Smith, CityFibre’s partnership manager for Medway, said: “We are investing £40m to deliver a full fibre network that will future-proof Medway’s digital infrastructure for decades to come and would like to thank residents for their patience while we deliver this project.
“As part of these essential digital infrastructure works, we are required to enforce a closure on Lower Rainham Road, between the junction of Berengrave Lane and the junction of Motney Way, for two weeks from 26th June to ensure we adhere to health and safety protocols.
“Our works will then continue in the surrounding areas over the coming months as we install our full fibre network in stages as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“Our team will always be happy to move barriers for resident access when asked and if it’s safe to do so.”
Rainham North councillors Kwashie Anang, George Perfect and Wayne Spring released a joint statement which said: “We too agree that the current situation in relation to roadworks is totally unacceptable, and have raised concerns with officers and the portfolio holder.
“As ward councillors, we do not have any role in approving nor reviewing roadwork plans.”
The councillors shared an update from council officers which said: “Planned road closures are only used as the last resort when the carriageway road-space is not available to the location of the works site and nature of the works.
“In the case of City Fibre, their installation will require at least 1.5m width of the carriageway as a works site and streets such as Lower Rainham Road don’t have the carriageway width for vehicles to move safely.
“The road closures of Station Road, Berengrave Lane and Lower Rainham Road have all been planned by the Streetworks team and Traffic Management team to cause the least disruption as possible.
“We would normally only allow road closures of main roads during school holidays but sadly, due to the duration requested by City Fibre we have had to allow some of the works during school term otherwise City Fibre would take two years to install their network in Rainham.”