Walk under the Railway on Saturday 21st Jan 2012

This was a day of celebration for villagers prior to the completion of the East Kent Access Road – the “CliffsEnd bypass” – before the underpass was opened to traffic.

It was jointly organised by the Cliffsend Residents’ Association and the East Kent Access Project Team – who put in a considerable effort above and beyond their normal duties to make the day a success, including working on a non-working day.

The fee for the walk was £1 per head – in aid of The Pilgrim’s Hospice.

The East Kent Access Road Team had agreed to allow villagers to walk along the section of the new road between the Sevenscore roundabout and the Lord of the Manor roundabout, via the Foads Hill underpass.

This was the only time that it would be possible to walk along this road to see (and examine) the Foads Hill underpass in close up. The underpass is 15 metres (about 50′) below ground level at its lowest point beneath the railway, and its construction had been a major engineering effort using a relatively untried, but ultimately successful, multiple box section and jacking technique; to date it is the longest jacked deck structure in the world.

The engineering/construction process was recorded by 2 webcams, and the details about this can be found here.

As the only access to the underpass was by road from the Lord of the Manor and Sevenscore roundabouts, the East Kent Access project team provided parking at their Richborough site office on the A256 Ramsgate (Sandwich) Road and transport for the attendees the between there and the underpass.

Despite the windy cold weather over 150 people turned up, and the 3 coaches were completely filled; the project allowed a few private cars with the late arrivals to join the coach convoy to the underpass.

All attendees had to read and sign a risk assessment before being allowed to take part.

The organisation was very good – almost military in precision – to ensure that all the attendees were kept safe in the construction area, and to prevent any unauthorised access onto the unopened road by other vehicles.

The coach convoy was led and followed in both directions by EKA project 4-wheel drive pick-up trucks with amber flashing lights – to prevent any other vehicles joining in.

The Project Team provided marshals for each coach, and provided ample people to help and explain at the Underpass site.

The road surface was not completed on the date of the visit, and only adult walkers wearing stout shoes were able to take part. Despite warnings several young children had been brought along; they had to remain on the coaches with a parent at the underpass site and just view it through the windows. 

We were dropped off near the Western end of the underpass road and walked through the underpass to near the Eastern (Lord of the Manor) end where the coaches were waiting. We were followed (at a distance) by several pick-up trucks – like sheep-dogs ensuring that no-one went astray!

A refreshment burger van was provided by the Thanet Lions at the Richborough site offices and proved very popular; toilet facilities were also available at the project offices.

 Advancing towards the Underpass from the West

Exiting the Eastern End of the Underpass

Herded out of the Eastern end of the Underpass by “Mechanical Sheepdogs”

The long haul up towards the Lord of the Manor

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