Press release

Possible reopening of one lane on the A249 near Sittingbourne

Highways England hopes to reopen one lane on the northbound A249 later this week, following completion of temporary works.

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The northbound carriageway and exit slip road remain closed between the A2 and the Bobbing junction, following a burst water main and subsequent void underneath the carriageway.

The outside lane on the northbound A249 will be reopened as soon as it is safe to do so once temporary repairs to the void have been completed. It is currently unsafe to reopen the slip road and inside lane. Surveys have not confirmed the stability of the ground underneath the road and the adjacent void in the ground is a potential risk to drivers.

A clearly signed diversion is in place via the Sheppey Way, following the hollow diamond symbol. Road users in the area are advised to allow extra time for their journeys.

The southbound A249 remains open.

The work carried out so far

From Monday 11 to Friday 15 January, Southern Water installed a replacement water main under the A249.

On Friday 15 January, the old water main was depressurised and as a consequence, a void started to appear.

Surveys could not be carried out until the level had receded. Pumping the water out could have made the void worse.

An initial pavement condition survey was carried out on Friday night (16 January) to determine the extent of the void under the northbound carriageway.

A second survey was carried out on Monday (25 January) to determine the ground stability underneath lane 2 to ensure that it is safe to reopen.

While waiting for the technical teams to analyse the results, plans have been underway to explore other options to manage traffic.

Work is now ongoing to fill the void with concrete. We anticipate that this work will be completed by tomorrow (Thursday 28 January). This will enable us to reopen one lane of the northbound carriageway.

Why is it taking so long?

A team of Highways England specialist geotechnical and pavement engineers, and specialist contractors, have been carrying out surveys of the integrity of the carriageway to see if it is safe for traffic to use.

These surveys are used to determine the physical properties of the ground underneath the road surface. They are carried out using a combination of non-invasive techniques, similar to an x-ray of the road, and taking core earth samples.

The results of these surveys will be analysed by a team of specialist engineers to build a profile of the ground conditions. Further surveys will be carried out over the next couple of weeks by specialist engineers to help us determine the scope and extent of the full repairs.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.

Published 27 January 2016