Contraflow to be put in place at Chestfield Tunnel on A299 Thanet Way

Work is taking place in the Chestfield Tunnel (Image KCC)

A contraflow will be put in place on the London-bound lane from tonight (Thursday 13 June) along the length of the Chestfield Tunnel on the A299 Thanet Way to repair and replace the jet fans in the coast-bound lane following a safety critical fault being identified in the tunnel.

An emergency closure was introduced on Tuesday (11 June) so specialist engineers could get on site to bring the London-bound lane back to a safe operational level so at least part of the tunnel can open. The jet fans on the coast-bound side will need to be replaced.

The contraflow will run for approximately 900 metres long and will allow one lane to remain open in both directions, where the speed limit will reduce to 40mph.

The contraflow will be in place for at least three months. The jet fans used to ventilate the tunnel are specialist pieces of kit which are manufactured to order and then delivered and installed on site by a specialist crew. It is expected that it will take at least two months dependent on availability to manufacture and deliver the fans, and the contraflow will need to be in place until the specialist crews can safely install the new fans.

The safety critical faults were identified during a routine inspection. The jet fans are one of the primary safety systems in the tunnel and critical to ensuring that fire crews can safely evacuate people in the event of a fire in the tunnel, as well as safely venting away traffic pollution.

Simon Jones, Corporate Director of Growth, Environment and Transport, said: “We understand this is a huge inconvenience to residents and we apologise for the disruption encountered, however our priority is public safety, which we take very seriously.

“The contraflow will enable us to keep at least one of the tunnel lanes open so that people can continue to use that stretch of road. However, please allow extra time for journeys as there will unfortunately be some delays.

“When the equipment manufacturer confirms when the fans can be delivered back to site we will provide a further update on when we will be able to safely remove the contraflow and re-open the tunnel fully.”

Kent Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager, Charlie Smith, said: “These are essential works to repair jet fans in the tunnel, which will support our crews in the safe evacuation of the public in the event of a fire”.

This work is separate to the A299 Thanet Way works completed last month.

10 Comments

  1. Why don’t you order them & wait the 2 months, then close it for a couple of nights after 3 in the morning & fit them. Why are you closing it off while you wait for them? Complete bonkers, I drove on the diversion & it has just caused so much traffic & pollution for no reason. It seems like the Government is organising it!!

  2. 1. It shows Kent highways incompetence and lack of maintenance.
    2. As you have identified its a short tunnel, switch the fans off air from vehicles and natural ventilation will ensure that there is not a build up of pollutants.
    3. It’s a conspiracy to effect voting for the election, simple solution is do no go to work that day and ensure you get your vote in which government are trying to prevent, or vote before going out. Incompetent Tory run KCC is a disgrace, NO PLAN, NO VISION,NO EFFICIENT MANNER OF WORKING, NO SENCE.

  3. It would of made sense to of replaced these fans the same time they replaced the lighting last year 😩

  4. Today the main Thanet Way is open but the old Thanet Way is shut by police causing more gridlock locally

  5. Kathy, i would say there is much more to this story than KCC will admit- it would be interesting to do an FOI to KCC highways to establish:
    -When was the last principle inspection of the tunnel undertaken and did it detect any emerging defects on the fans at this point in time?
    -What was the anticipated design life of the jet fans, when were they installed and were they scheduled for a future renewal?
    -Have the renewal of these items been previously scheduled and then deferred?
    -Is there a critical spare’s strategy for the tunnel in place?!
    I find it very odd that these have been left until they are about to fail to such an extent that they cause an imminent and immediate risk to the travelling public.
    Something has gone very wrong here with the Asset Management of this tunnel, as it is very unusual for a “sudden” escalation of risk to this extent for a relatively new asset. I wonder if the ORR (Office for Road &Rail) intends to investigate?

  6. Of course it is, too much to ask that all routes, and public transport can run for more than 3 days without problems.

  7. Could be worse

    Can you imagine what it will be like when manston reopens. Hundreds of Fuel tankers, HGV’s, passengers as well ( according to the papers ). The only road to the M2 ! It will be chaos, like dover when the ferries stop

  8. At least Manston will only be temporary, if the money what little there is being invested in the multiple times failed airfield was the directors, share holders own money they wouldn’t be doing it, in terms of investment it’s a bad depth and poor invest with the large chunk of probability of losing your money when it goes bang again, and you won’t even get a return of a penny in the pound once the banks and HMRC sell it off for development to get there money back. I see your point, that’s another reason it’s so inappropriate, it’s at the end of the country withall infrastructure for distribution being 2 hours plus away at best.

    • Agree Steve

      I thought now that the appeal has been stopped it would be all go at manston now. Invested coming out of the woodwork to pump millions into it. Freight companies all saying they can’t wait to come to manston.

      Instead it’s just silence lol

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