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Last Updated: Monday, 7 July, 2003, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Text alerts for tail-back bridge
Kings Ferry Bridge, Isle of Sheppey
The bridge is the only way on and off the Isle of Sheppey
A text alert service has been launched to let drivers know when a bridge is raised.

Hundreds of drivers travelling over the Kings Ferry Bridge to the Isle of Sheppey are held up in traffic jams each time the bridge is lifted to allow boats along the River Swale.

The text message scheme, launched on Monday, will now give an hour's notice when the bridge has to be raised.

Its organisers hope this will help motorists - particularly emergency and health service workers - plan their journeys.

The lifting bridge carries the only rail and road links between the Isle of Sheppey and the rest of Kent.

Kings Ferry Bridge, Isle of Sheppey
Drivers are frequently stuck in jams while river traffic passes through

The scheme is the brainchild of Maria Clarke, who works for Medway Ports Authority.

She said: "We've had a lot of discussions at work about how we could let people know when the bridge was going to lift but nothing was timely or accurate enough.

"Then I was driving home one day and when I got a text message with travel information, I wondered if we could do the same."

Network Rail, which owns the bridge, agreed to pay for a telephone line and computer to run the text service.

Drivers subscribe to receive a text an hour before the bridge goes up, at a cost of 25p per message.

The service, run by Flytxt, operates from 0630 to 0930 and 1600 to 1900 Monday to Friday and from 0700 to 1900 on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays.

The scheme has been backed by the Sheppey Gazette, which had been running a campaign to get river traffic banned during rush hours.

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