Published: 11:42, 09 August 2021
| Updated: 13:55, 09 August 2021
Gas works on the Isle of Sheppey which have caused chaos for drivers are set to finish a week ahead of schedule.
The earlier date follows calls from Sittingbourne and Sheppey MP Gordon Henderson and others to do something about the project which was causing delays for drivers on the Island.
The Conservative MP originally asked for works to be postponed until winter, but Southern Gas Networks said this couldn't be done and instead sent out an extra engineering team to finish the job early.
Kent County Council issued a notice towards the end of July saying works to replace gas mains along Queenborough Road, Halfway, would close the road for up to four weeks from Thursday, July 22, with the company originally estimating finish by Thursday, August 19.
Drivers on the Island have faced chaos since the start of the gas works with gridlock on some of Sheppey's road as a result.
However, despite Mr Henderson's best efforts to postpone the works SGN chief executive John Morea claims leaving them until winter would "put the Island at risk of continuous leaks, emergency repairs and possibly of loss of supply".
Responding to the Conservative MP he said: "I am sorry to hear our project in Queenborough Road has contributed to recent traffic congestion within the local area and has been causing concern to your constituents.
"I understand your request to postpone this work, and why you feel this would be more beneficial in winter months.
"The project was planned in consultation with local bus companies and Kent County Council to get this done as quickly as possible.
"We understand closing a road causes disruption however, due to the position of the pipe traffic lights would not provide enough space for vehicles to pass and our engineers to work safely."
Mr Morea went on to say that the gas company found eight areas of leakage on the main, before highlighting the "necessity" to get works finished.
He added: "Although we recognise the short-term disruption to the local area, delaying the replacement would put the Island at risk of continuous leaks resulting in the requirement for emergency repair work and the possibility of loss of supply."
The chief executive carried on to say works could not be postponed but an additional engineering team was being sent out to work on the site.
With this new team SGN are hopeful works will be completed a week ahead of schedule on Wednesday, pushed back from today following bad weather over the weekend.
MP Gordon Henderson said: "While I am disappointed that SGN are not able to suspend the work until the winter, as requested, I am pleased they have agreed to put an additional engineering team on the site.
"With those extra resources, and if the work continues as planned, the job should be completed by August 9, two weeks ahead of schedule.
"I am sure that news will be a relief to those of my constituents who are currently having to put up daily with severe congestion on the A249, the A250 and the A2500.
"Finally could I once again urge all the drivers using the Cowstead Corner roundabout to be patient and observe the filter-in system that merges two lanes into one. If we all do this then traffic will move more smoothly."