April 2002 - Taddington Bridge demolition
At around 4 a.m. on Saturday 13 April, Taddington Bridge, at Junction 3 of the M2, was demolished by explosive charges as part of the continuing scheme to widen the M2 motorway. The demolition of the 2,500 tonne bridge, which has served the junction of the M2/A229 Blue Bell Hill since 1963, entailed the closure of 14 km of motorway between Junctions 1 and 4 from 22.00hrs Friday 12 April to 22.00hrs Sunday 14 April.
This site has proposed a connection between environmental disturbances and 'outbreaks' of road ghost activity. It remains to be seen whether this particular event has succeeded in stirring renewed interest in the location on behalf of the spirit world.
'M2 to close as bridge is blown up', Kent Messenger (Maidstone), 12 April 2002, p.53.
One down, one up...
The M2 was again closed during the same period over the weekend of 10-12 May for the construction of the new Robin Hood lane bridge at Junction 3; and again the following weekend (17-18 May) between 22:00hrs Friday to 10:00hrs on Saturday to enable the carrying out of false work and permanent formwork to over bridges. (Source: Highways Agency website).
[15 November 2001 - Man dies in collision]
Sadly, Blue Bell Hill claimed another life on Thursday (15 November) when a 40-year-old man died in a three-car collision 400 yards south of the Bridgewood Roundabout.
Kent police have appealed for any witnesses to the accident to come forward.
'DRIVER DEAD AFTER ROAD CRASH', ITV Teletext (News South East) Nov.15, 2001 p.336 ; 'VAN DRIVER KILLED IN KENT SMASH', Meridian News (www.meridiantv.com) 16 Nov. 2001; 'Fatal crash', BBC - Kent News (www.bbc.co.uk/kent/news) 16 Nov. 2001; 'MAN ARRESTED AFTER COLLISION', ITV Teletext (News South East) 16 Nov. 2001 p.338 ; 'Man dies in collision', Kent Messenger, 16 November 2001, p.3.
The death is the first in the Bridgewood area of Blue Bell Hill since three students were killed at the same spot in June 1996, and one of at least 27 reported deaths on the Hill since November 1965.
[2 July 2001 - Crop Circle at Blue Bell Hill]
July 2 saw the appearance of a crop-circle formation at the foot of Blue Bell Hill. Laid down in barley, the formation appeared in a field near to the village of Burham, and was clearly visible from the Blue Bell Hill picnic area.
The formation, found by circle-studying group Kent Kaos, straddled six tram lines, and consisted of one large circle with three arms of three circles each. The central 'hub' circle contained three oval markings. Investigators from various groups examined the formation, and found some damage to the crop.
At first opportunity to view it for myself (late August; from the picnic area), the formation had been harvested out, leaving only the barest trace.
For more details and pix, view the investigators' reports at the following sites:
The Crop Circle Connector
Kent in Kaos - a site that includes details of a similar tri-armed formation, which was reported in a field of young wheat at Borstal on 25 June (the same field which show-cased a spectacular formation in 1999). The site, which overlooks the A2/M2 Medway Bridge, lies near to the parallel construction routes of the A2/M2 widening work, and the Channel Tunnel Rail-link, and not very far from the western portal of the North Downs Tunnel beneath Blue Bell Hill.
One of my initial impressions regarding these two formations in the vicinity of Blue Bell Hill, other than their obvious similarity in design, was the comparison they bore to the cutting head/tunnel cross-section of the excavation itself. Human or otherwise, is someone making commentary on this significant breach of the heart of the chalk escarpment of the North Downs?
Blue Bell Hill area is undergoing a good deal of alteration to its physical environment as a consequence of two major transport construction schemes - the Channel Tunnel Rail-Link (which has necessitated the boring of the North Downs Tunnel beneath the Hill), which commenced in October 1998; and the widening of the A2/M2, which impacts the top of Blue Bell Hill (Bridgewood/Chatham area), work on which began in 2000. In consideration of the mooted connection between such environmental disturbance and Road Ghost outbreaks, we await events with anticipation.
Full details of the two schemes can viewed at the following links:
Channel Tunnel Link
Costain-Skanska-Mowlem (CSM) Joint venture A2M2
18 May 2001
The Kent Messenger (Maidstone) reported that the major Channel Tunnel Rail Link works site adjacent to the Cossington section of the A229 at Blue Bell Hill is to be dismantled nine months ahead of schedule due to the speedy progress of the £80 million North Downs Tunnel beneath Blue Bell Hill, which is near to completion.
Project managers Rail Link Engineering have confirmed that the two-storey temporary office block, a concrete batching plant, temporary roads, and other infrastructure and equipment will be removed this month, clearing the way for CTRL environmental experts to come in to restore the rural character of the site.
'Early finish keeps rail link on track', Kent Messenger, 18 May 2001, p.49.
In March 1993, the Kent Messenger announced that a TV company (Meridian) had leaked details (before its formal announcement in Parliament) of a document which set out details of the proposed Union Railways rail link across the county from London to Cheriton.
Making an easterly crossing of the river Medway beside the existing M2 motorway bridge, the route would enter a 3.2 km tunnel under Blue Bell Hill (and directly under Kit's Coty House and the A229), emerging 300 metres north of the Bluebells Estate at Sandling, before continuing through the Boxley Valley ('Tunnel 'rail link route' is leaked', by Trevor Sturgess, Kent Messenger, 19 March 1993, fp).
Two years later, the Kent Messenger provided an update on the plan, with a map confirming the line of the Union Railways route, which would emerge from the Nashenden-Blue Bell Hill tunnel on the east side of the A229 very close to the present Cossington service station and the White Horse Stone. The article highlighted an alternative route commissioned by Kent County Council (KCC) which had been put to Commons Rail Link Select Committee MPs. The KCC route would, at an additional cost of only £70 million, and in the interest of reduced environmental impact, provide a longer tunnel through the chalk a little further north than the Union Railways route, by-passing the Boxley Valley to emerge at Detling. At this stage, the Union Railways route was likely to remain in favour, not just in terms of cost, but for safety considerations. The Railways Inspectorate was expected to insist on a twin-bore tunnel rather than the single-bore proposed by KCC's consultants.
It is estimated that the construction, which commenced in October 1998, will take 3 to 4 years to complete (operational 24 hours a day), and produce around a million cubic metres of chalk, which will be taken by a cement company. The greatest impact on Blue Bell Hill will be at Lower Warren Road, where properties can expect to experience noise disturbance from the siting here of a temporary materials depot/construction village and waste traffic servicing the works. The whole project will have an estimated cost of £3 billion. ('£70 million to provide a rail link tunnel', by Steve Hedges, Kent Messenger, 10 March 1995, p.4.; 'Tony is the new Mr Link', Kent Messenger, 7 February, 1997, p.11.; 'It's time to stop talking and start digging the Link', Kent Today, 16 October, 1998, p.2.)
The 2-mile long tunnel is the UK’s largest volume rail tunnel to have been built since completion of the Channel Tunnel in 1994, and is the biggest of its type in the country (‘Star Wars set on track to speed us to Europe’, by Justin Penrose, Medway Today, 14 February 2000, p.16). Breakthrough on the North Downs Tunnel, which was witnessed by the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, was achieved on 8 June 2000 (‘Light at the end of rail link tunnel’, by Stephen Hedges, Kent Messenger 9 June 2000, p.2). The work is scheduled to be completed by December 2001.
RIGHT: The A2/M2 widening work, pictured at junction 3 in April 2001 (looking west).
Off-picture to the left is the Nashenden portal of the North Downs Tunnel that will bring the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from beneath Blue Bell Hill to enter the A2M2 corridor (London-bound).
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