Sink­hole road is fi­nally open af­ter five months

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - NEWS - By Will Janes @Wil­lJanesKM wjanes@thek­m­group.co.uk

A road closed since a sink­hole the size of a ten­nis court opened up five months ago has re­opened.

Neigh­bours, led by Claire Dadswell, cel­e­brated on Sun­day with an im­promptu party as traf­fic was fi­nally able to use A26 at Barm­ing again.

The 43-year-old per­sonal as­sis­tant, who works for Har­ri­et­sham com­pany Bed­fort Sci­en­tific, said: “We had joked about of­fi­cially open­ing it with a bot­tle of Pros­ecco but when we saw it was al­most com­plete we de­cided to cel­e­brate by sit­ting down.

“It was a once in a life­time op­por­tu­nity. Peo­ple laughed at us but it had to be done!”

She set­tled down on Ton­bridge Road with her daugh­ter Katie, 13, neigh­bour Mia Stock­well and Mia’s daugh­ter Lil­ija, eight, and took selfies watched by be­mused work­men.

But she added: “The past five months have been a night­mare. I live in Glebe Lane and we have suf­fered a huge amount with ex­tra traf­fic us­ing our road as a di­ver­sion to get to Maid­stone Hospi­tal in Her­mitage Lane.

“It has been hideous with cars go­ing past con­tin­u­ously from 6am in the morn­ing to 7pm at night most days.

“We have wit­nessed ter­ri­ble in­ci­dents of road rage with mo­torists driv­ing like id­iots and yelling at each other. It has been to­tal grid­lock. I don’t think peo­ple re­alise what we have all been through. There were times we couldn’t even get in or out of our own drive­ways.”

Pot­hole-rid­dled Gat­land Lane, which runs par­al­lel to Ton­bridge Road, is now to be resur­faced.

Staff at be­leagued In­dian restau­rant, Taj Barm­ing, were also in cel­e­bra­tory mood and posted pho­tos of the new-look road on its Face­book page. The post said: “Af­ter a long and ar­du­ous jour­ney, we can fi­nally an­nounce that the Maid­stone sink­hole saga is fi­nally over!”

It says it lost £200,000 in cus­tom since the road was shut.

The sink­hole sud­denly opened up over the May bank hol­i­day and led to 10 homes be­ing evac- uated. Spe­cial­ist en­gi­neers had to dig down 11 me­tres then fill the gap with more than 1,000 tonnes of spe­cial strength grout. The re­pair is es­ti­mated to have cost more than £1 mil­lion.

KCC cabi­net mem­ber for high­ways Cllr Mike Whit­ing said: “The sig­nif­i­cant work we’ve done with ground sta­bil­i­sa­tion and re­newal of util­ity in­fra­struc­ture will in­crease re­silience against fu­ture fail­ure and pre­vent the need for any fur­ther util­ity works.”

“While I ap­pre­ci­ate res­i­dents’ frus­tra­tion with the time it has taken, this has been a huge un­der­tak­ing and some­thing we have never dealt with be­fore.

“It re­quired spe­cial­ist con­trac­tors which are not al­ways read­ily avail­able, as well as sig­nif­i­cant plan­ning.”

Pic­ture: Andy Pay­ton

Work started on re­pair­ing the sink­hole, on the A26 Ton­bridge Road near the junc­tion of Fountain Lane, back in May

Katie and Claire Dadswell cel­e­brate with Mia Stock­well

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