A26 Tonbridge Road in Maidstone still closed as work under way to fill huge sinkhole

A Kent town is facing severe disruption after a sinkhole opened on a major road last week.

Part of Tonbridge Road in Maidstone is completely shut after the hole, which measures five feet by six feet, opened up last Friday (October 22).

It’s impacting drivers coming from Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge that need to get to Maidstone High Street.

Read More: Cluster of west Kent towns hit by wave of COVID cases

The hole is also just 500 metres away from where a similar sinkhole emerged just three years ago.

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KCC Highways have confirmed the road will be closed for “up to six days” as ground investigation works are carried out following a water leak.

Vehicles travelling Eastbound should follow B2246 Fountain Lane, B2246 Hermitage Lane, A20 London Road, A20 Tonbridge Road, A26 Tonbridge Road.

Those heading Westbound should follow A20 Terrace Road, A20 London Road, B2246 Hermitage Lane, B2246 Fountain Lane, A26 Tonbridge Road.

The 7.5T weight restriction which was in place along B2246 Hermitage Lane has been suspended for the duration of the works.

Extensive work is still being carried out in the area, which would see the road closure extended beyond Friday (October 28).

But how are the local residents coping while extensive works are carried out to fill the hole?

Here’s what they had to say when we visited on Thursday (October 28), almost one week on.

‘There’s nothing we can do about it’

Rod, 70

Rod, 70, lives near to the green at the top of Cherry Orchard Way, where the sinkhole is situated at the bottom of the road.

He told KentLive he was initially away on holiday when the sinkhole appeared.

“I was up in London for a few days and first found out about the sinkhole online,” he said.

“Instead of getting annoyed I just think it is what it is really, there’s nothing we can do about it unfortunately.

“There have been a few incidents at houses and in the nearby road in previous years where sinkholes have appeared.

“One was even found in someone’s garden many years ago, so it’s unfortunately something we’re quite used to.”

‘I didn’t have any water’

Cherry Orchard Way, Maidstone

Bev Hasemere-Brown, 60, has lived in the area on two separate occasions after initially growing up there.

She now lives along Cherry Orchard Way, the road cut off by the sinkhole, and told KentLive of the issues she has faced.

“I first noticed that there was a problem on Friday morning when I woke up and didn’t really have any water,” she said.

“I thought nothing much of it but after heading outside and seeing what had happened, my immediate reaction was ‘not another sinkhole’.

“I grew up in this area and it was never a problem back then, so I think we’re all a bit confused as to why problems have only really started to surface in the last few years.”

‘I was amazed but not surprised’

Work to repair the sinkhole is underway

Corinne, 74, told KentLive she also had water issues on Friday morning, which is how she was made aware of the problems.

She even went to pick up some bottled water as it was just “dripping” out of her tap.

“I woke up on Friday morning and there was just a dribble of water coming out from the tap,” she said.

“I walked down to get some bottled water and that’s when I first saw the sinkhole, I was initially amazed but not surprised by what I saw.

“There’s been a lot of building in the area and that could well be the cause of it.

“I’m having to walk down to the other bus stop now, since it would have come to the bottom of the road, and the driver told me it could take up to six weeks to sort.”

‘We’ve had a few in the area recently’

Part of Tonbridge Road has been closed

Harry, 79, was walking his dog along the top of Cherry Orchard Way, which overlooks the gaping sinkhole.

He told KentLive most locals have just become used to delays in the area due to sinkholes emerging.

“I first heard about this new one when someone told me of it last week,” he said.

“We’ve had a few in the area recently which have taken quite a while to fill in and I’d expect this one to be the same.

“I don’t know why the roads aren’t checked, they should be treated just like all the other major roads.

“Us locals have had to become used to it, but if I was a bus driver using the road as part of my route, I wouldn’t be happy!”

‘I’m now walking into the town’

Part of the footpath has also been closed off

One resident of Cherry Orchard Way, who did not wish to be named, said she initially thought the road closure was a way to stop cars from parking down the road.

“We do get a lot of cars that park at the bottom of the road,” she said.

“I initially thought the signs were put up to stop them from doing that because it has been a bit of an issue.

“We have had some similar cases in the past with sinkholes but I don’t think it’s something we can really get frustrated at.

“I’m now walking into the town which is really nice, and of course very good for you!”

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Article Source: Kent Live