A contraflow has been put in place on the London-bound lane on 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.
Works in the Chestfield Tunnel

Photo: Kent County Council

An emergency closure was introduced on Tuesday 11 June so that specialist engineers could get on site to bring the London-bound lane back up 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 is shorter than the one in place earlier this year. It 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.

By Ed

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