Medway Tunnel

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Medway Tunnel
Medway Tunnel - Chatham Side - - 546544.jpg
A view of the Medway Tunnel
Location connecting Strood to Chatham in Kent, UK
Coordinates 51°24′01″N 0°31′36″E / 51.400357°N 0.526721°E / 51.400357; 0.526721Coordinates: 51°24′01″N 0°31′36″E / 51.400357°N 0.526721°E / 51.400357; 0.526721
Status active
Route (A289) connecting Strood with Chatham in Kent, under the River Medway, in the UK
Crosses River Medway
Constructed May 1992 – June 1996
Opened 22 June 1996; 21 years ago (1996-06-22)
Operator Rochester Bridge Trust
Traffic vehicle
Character public
Toll none (free)
Length 780 ft (240 m)
No. of lanes 2 (each way)
Operating speed 50 miles per hour (80 km/h)

The Medway Tunnel is a tunnel under the River Medway linking Strood with Chatham in Kent, England. It forms part of the Medway Towns Northern Relief Road (A289). The Medway Tunnel is the first immersed tube tunnel to be built in England and only the second of this type in the UK, the other being at Conwy, North Wales.[1]


In 1990 the Medway Tunnel Act was passed granting the Rochester Bridge Trust the power to build and own the tunnel.[2] The work, which was carried out by an HBM Civil Engineering / Tarmac Construction joint venture, started in May 1992.[2] The tunnel was constructed in three distinct sections. The centre part of the tunnel is the 370 metres of immersed tube, which is linked to cut and cover tunnels on both the Strood and Chatham banks of the river.[1] The Medway Tunnel was opened by the Princess Royal in June 1996.[2] In 1996, it won an award from the UK’s Concrete Society.[3]

Running Costs[edit]

Things that are not allowed in the Medway Tunnel.
No horses, cycles, pedestrians. The detour for cycles and pedestrians is several miles long. No parking is allowed either, and there is a 50mph speed limit.(Strood side).

In 2008 negotiations were completed by the Conservative Council administration which purchased the freehold of the Tunnel from the Trust for £1 with a £3.6m contribution on future costs.[2] This has caused controversy locally as the sum will not meet the 5-10 year short-term costs of the tunnel according to local Council budgets. Under the former agreement, the Trust had made discretionary contributions to help meet those costs since the Tunnel opened, amounting to about £0.5 million per year but these ceased.

Bicycles are currently prohibited from using the tunnel. According to a report[4] commissioned by the Council in 2003, enabling cycling through the tunnel is the number one priority for encouraging bicycle usage in the Medway region. No action has subsequently been taken in this regard, possibly as the change will require an Act of Parliament.


  1. ^ a b "Medway Tunnel". Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Rochester Bridge Trust
  3. ^ "Medway Tunnel, UK's second immersed tube tunnel". 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Medway Cabinet Report

External links[edit]