Final section of access road officially opened
THE final part of the East Kent Access Road was officially opened on Wednesday by local transport minister Norman Baker.
The £87 million project runs from Richborough to Manston Airport and through Cliffsend.
It aims to improve access to Manston airport and the former Pfizer site.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Baker said: "This project sends the clear message that Kent is open for business by providing improved local and national transport links to the area, as well as more reliable journey times."
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Mr Baker was joined by leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter, Thanet South MP Laura Sandys, Des Steadman of Hochtief VolkerFitzpatrick, the contractor that built the road, and Cliffsend residents.
VolkerFitzpatrick is the UK arm of the Dutch company VolkerWessels, one of the largest construction groups in Europe.
Mrs Sandys said: "I was always committed to put Thanet at the front of the queue. The opening of the East Kent Access Road will ensure just that, with journey times between the ports of Ramsgate and Dover, and Manston Airport greatly reduced, we will no longer be left at the end of the line."
The new road was built five months ahead of schedule by KCC constructors with £81.25 million funding from the Department for Transport and £5.75 million from KCC.
The £87 million budget covered the full project expenditure, including the construction, diversion of public utility services, land costs, professional fees and archaeology.
A pair of gold bracelets, almost 3,000 years old, were among 10,000 items unearthed by archeologists and volunteers who took part in an archeological dig along the route in September 2010.
The final part of the East Kent Access Road provides almost five miles of dual carriageway connecting the A299 at Minster and the A256 at Richborough to a new Lord of the Manor junction.
It completes work on the A299 Thanet Way and changes to the A256, which was started in the 1980s.