Published: 11:32, 27 February 2020
| Updated: 12:58, 27 February 2020
Gas main work will close a key stretch of road for a month - with a 20-mile diversion in place.
SGN, which maintains gas supply, says it will replace mains and needs to close the A2 High Street, Newington, in both directions between the junctions with Bull Lane and Wickham Close.
The latest phase of work starts on Monday, April 6. They are near to where the road had to close in July after a record 20 leaks led to emergency work to repair the pipes.
This emergency closure saw a slight delay to the £1.85m scheme to replace nearly three miles of pipes along the A2 at Newington, which began at the end of September.
Rainham to the Key Street roundabout is about five miles but drivers will be taken on a diversion of about 20 miles via the A249 and M2. Roads around the village can be used by smaller vehicles.
SGN spokesman, Dan Brown, said the road needs to be closed heading to and from Sittingbourne to excavate the pipes due to their location.
It follows talks with Kent County Council (KCC), which manages the stretch of road, and Highways England.
The project will see old metal gas mains replaced with more durable plastic pipes.
Mr Brown said the intention was to do this without closing the road, but because of the location of an existing pipe, access would extend over both lanes.
He added: “KCC confirmed maintaining traffic flow would not be possible.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the change to our original programme.”
Similar gas roadworks will take place at the Key Street roundabout to reduce the duration of the project.
"We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the change to our original programme."
Cllr Mike Whiting (Con), county member for Swale West, has called for a public meeting about the plans.
He says he is concerned about the impact on businesses in the area and bus services, particularly for patients getting to hospital appointments.
Cllr Whiting also questioned whether KCC was being overly concerned about health and safety in forcing the closure.
His plea follows a long-term closure for emergency gasworks last summer that caused problems for residents and businesses.
“A meeting would be most helpful in allaying the fears many have about the works in general,” he said.
More by this authorEllis Stephenson