No road hell this summer after repair plans ditched
MAJOR roadworks which would have caused traffic chaos in Tonbridge and Hildenborough this summer have been halted.
In March, the Courier revealed Highways Agency plans to close the A21 between Morleys Roundabout at Sevenoaks and the Tonbridge/Southborough junction for six weeks to repair the viaduct across the River Medway.
The project would have meant numerous partial and total closures of the dual carriageway between June 11 and July 27, with large volumes of traffic being diverted along the B245.
Following our report, in which a Tonbridge taxi driver condemned the scheme's timing as "nuts", Tonbridge and Malling MP Sir John Stanley asked agency chief executive Graham Dalton to reconsider the plans which would have meant "intolerable" conditions for residents.
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He suggested the works be carried out over shorter periods and at a less busy time of the year.
This week, Mr Dalton replied confirming the scheme would not go ahead.
He wrote: "While the need to carry out essential maintenance on the viaduct remains, we are still reviewing the alternative methods of carrying out the works, with less adverse impact on traffic.
"You will appreciate that any scheme finally selected will need to balance the interest of local residents and travellers with offering the taxpayer value for money."
Sir John told the Courier he was "delighted" with the decision, adding: "I am now awaiting the outcome of the Highways Agency's review which has been promised to me by the end of May."
Hildenborough Parish Council chairman Mike Dobson was also glad the agency had responded to local opinion.
"It was going to affect everybody in Hildenborough and Tonbridge," he said.
"I'm sure the maintenance does need doing eventually, but they could have thought it through a bit more delicately."
He added: "I'm very pleased personally as my wife and I are celebrating our golden wedding anniversary in June and we have about 50 or 60 people coming. You can imagine the chaos on the road outside my house if all the traffic was diverted down there.
"But hopefully it will be of benefit to all of the residents of Tonbridge and Hildenborough."