Warning over delays after Tunbridge Wells hospital access is closed

Warning over delays after Tunbridge Wells hospital access is closed

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A21 Roundabout

Ambulances and hospital visitors are facing a potentially vital delay in treatment times after one of the access roads to Tunbridge Wells Hospital was closed last weekend.

The route has been cut off for eight months while a new flyover is constructed as part of the improvements to the A21.

Emergency crews and members of the public have been advised this could add up to ten minutes to their journeys to the hospital at Pembury.

Tonbridge Road will be closed to drivers using the Longfield roundabout until next March.

Ambulances and visitors will instead have to continue to the next exit, at the A228 just outside Pembury village, and then queue at the traffic lights – which often become heavily congested, particularly during the rush hour – before turning left into Tonbridge Road to reach the hospital.

Arrangements have been put in place, after consultation with the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, to create an emergency route through the works site in the event of the southern end of Tonbridge Road becoming blocked by an accident.

The project is part of the ongoing construction of a dual carriageway to replace the 2.5-mile single-lane section of the A21 between Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, which began in April 2015.

Once built, the new flyover will allow motorists to bypass the Longfield roundabout completely, but for those needing local access, the northern entrance to Tonbridge Road will be accessible from Longfield Road by driving underneath the bridgework.

A21 New Look
The existing roundabout will be closed

Turning on to the A21 north of Longfield Road will now involve using new slip roads, after the route of the main artery was moved to the west of the old road. Another new junction will also be created at Fairthorne to permit access to a service station.

The road widening scheme, by Balfour Beatty, is costing an estimated £69.7million. The works have involved removing ancient woodland and a Grade II listed building, which will be rebuilt in a museum.

Highways England Project Manager Anne-Marie Palmer said: “This scheme will deliver huge benefits to people travelling on this part of the A21 and further afield.

“We have achieved a lot so far and now we are ready for the next phase of the work.

“Once complete, this scheme will increase traffic capacity and improve safety.”