Relief for drivers in Medway as tunnel reopens, council confirms

  • Watch ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw reports on the first day of disruption in Medway.

A major commuter route in Kent has now reopened to traffic, the council has confirmed.

It was closed to traffic yesterday due to a ‘technical issue’, causing significant tailbacks on surrounding roads.

The Medway Tunnel, which links Chatham and Strood, was shut in both directions at 5am yesterday morning (Friday, 16 December).

Medway Council, which owns and operates the site, said its highways staff had discovered ‘an issue with the tunnel’s operating systems’.

A spokesperson for the council told ITV News Meridian "We have had a technical systems failure which has resulted in a loss of critical functions that maintain safety within the tunnel.

The systems that detect incidents, CCTV coverage, and other functions such as ventilation fans, lighting and pumps are all affected.

Without this we cannot operate the tunnel safely and have been left with no option but to close it for the time being.  Specialist engineers have been on site all night and continue their work today."

The 700-metre tunnel under the River Medway was closed to traffic in the early hours of the morning.

Drivers were asked , again, to plan more time for their journeys today and use alternative routes.

It came on the day of another rail strike by members of the RMT union and on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Sarah Tranter, Chair, Rochester City Centre Forum, told ITV News Meridian: “The timing is absolutely rotten, it really couldn’t be worse, on top of everything, it will be a real blow to our traders. I really hope they manage to get it sorted. It’ll make a lot of people very happy.”

The Time Christmas Shop on the nearby Medway City Estate saw customer numbers drop by half on Friday.

Clare Watkinson, who works in it’s Santa’s Grotto, said: “The closer we get to Christmas, the more we can have fun with the children, with all their visits.”

“Most people have bought their Christmas stuff, but this is the interactive time, so it’s a real shame, just before Christmas, that people can’t get here.”

Medway Council updated the situation this afternoon confirming the reopening of the route.