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Traffic chaos on Sheppey as two major routes closed for roadworks

Sheppey's road system was plunged into chaos again last night when two major routes were shut because of roadworks.

Scheduled night-time closures have been in place on the Lower Road in Minster since Monday, meaning the road is shut from Cowstead Corner to the Barton Hill Drive roundabout from 7.30pm to 6am each night on weekdays.

Queues have previously stretched to the top of the Sheppey Crossing when the Lower Road is closed. Stock picture
Queues have previously stretched to the top of the Sheppey Crossing when the Lower Road is closed. Stock picture

It is to allow surfacing works to be carried out and they are set to finish on Friday, November 22.

However, at about 8.30pm last night, Highways England closed the A249 into Sheerness from The Whiteways roundabout for drainage maintenance work and street lighting replacement.

The closure of both main roads meant all traffic had to be diverted through Halfway.

Minster parish councillor John Twiselton said it took him an hour-and-a-half to drive from Queenborough to Minster at 9pm.

"It was absolute chaos with miles of queues back onto the A249 from the Halfway traffic lights and along the old A249 to Cowstead Corner and beyond." he said.

'Pushing all Island traffic through Halfway is wholly unacceptable,' - Cllr Cameron Beart

"As there appears to have been no early warning signage related to the A249 Whiteways to Sheerness road closure, cars were going down to the roundabout having to turn back and the eastward section of the A249 towards The Aviator was also full of cars."

He added: "I saw an ambulance with its blue lights flashing struggling to get from Queenborough Corner towards the Halfway traffic lights. It was severely delayed. I very much hope this delay did not result in a fatality.

"How was Kent Highways or Highways England allowed to close the main roads onto the Island at the same time for maintenance work?"

Cllr Cameron Beart (Con), who represents Queenborough and Halfway, expressed his frustration on Facebook after spending 20 minutes on the phone to Highways England.

He said: "As I am sure most people are aware, Highways England decided at 8.30pm this evening to close the A249 and divert traffic through Halfway.

"These works were not planned works and did not appear on the Highways England work programme for this week. Nor were they authorised as emergency works."

He added: "Pushing all Island traffic through Halfway is wholly unacceptable."

Cllr Beart said given the amount of complaints the authority received last night, the contractor agreed to pull off the site and the road was reopened about 11.30pm.

He added that he'd submitted a formal complaint with Highways England and was demanding answers from the authority as to why the A249 closure was authorised at such short notice and on the same night that the Lower Road remained closed.

A Highways England spokesman said: "We always try and plan our roadworks carefully and have set up a roadworks coordination group with our partners in Kent to detect and prevent clashes like this.

"Clearly this did not work as planned, and we are sorry for the disruption this caused. We removed our roadworks as soon as possible when we were aware of the situation, and will work with the council to ascertain the facts about each set of roadworks to avoid a similar situation in the future."

The work will now be rescheduled.

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