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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
Drivers face two-way road switch
Confusion on Railway Street
Some motorists found the new road system in Chatham confusing
Motorists driving in the Kent town of Chatham are confronting a new road system for the first time.

The old one-way ring road has been changed to a two-way network - part of which is now closed to normal traffic - at a cost of 2.5m to Medway Council.

Traffic management officers were on duty to help drivers during Monday morning's changeover, which passed off with relatively few hold-ups.

Tailbacks were reported in Chatham Hill, Medway Street and New Road.

As part of the changes, Brook Street and Best Street now have two-way traffic, with stopping or unloading banned.

'Businesses threatened'

The Sir John Hawkins flyover has been closed to all traffic except buses, taxis and cycles.

The closures began at midnight on Saturday to allow new signs and traffic signals to be put in place.

Medway Council said the change was needed to enable the regeneration of Chatham, which has already attracted more than 150m of investment.

However, commuters, shoppers and a number of business fear the new system will have the opposite effect, throttling the area and driving people to alternative town and shopping centres.

Gillayne Smith, owner of a hardware and clothing supplier, claims the work has frightened people away and could force some out of business.

Police stop confused drivers on the flyover
The flyover is closed to all traffic except buses, taxis and cycles

"The signs that the council have put up outside Chatham, before they started the work, basically said 'keep out' which people have done.

"And unfortunately there are other roadworks in the area as well which don't help... it's had a terrible effect really on the whole area," she said.

Medway councillor Mark Jones said he had been approached by a number of concerned residents and traders, with part of the problem being lack of consultation.

"There hasn't been a great deal of communication with them, if at all, about what has been going on," he said.

Councillor Phil Filmer, spokesman for the council, said it would look into the concerns raised.

Phase two of the road project, which takes place next year, includes demolition of the flyover, new car parks and a new bus station.




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