The purpose of this government-funded scheme is to improve road access into north-east Kent. Once completed East Kent Access Phase Two will provide 8km (5 miles) of new dual carriageway on roads around the Isle of Thanet. It will help support the economy of east Kent and connect the ports of Dover and Ramsgate and Kent International Airport. This will complete improvements of the A299 Thanet Way and A256 that were started in the 1980's.
Features of phase 2 included taking the road in an 105m underpass beneath Foads Hill and the railway at Cliffsend; and a two span composite road over rail composite bridge. at Cottington Lane.
The Underpass at Cliffsend is a unique design and build element of the East Kent Access Phase 2 contract. The structure provides a route for the new dual carriageway, which sits in a 15m deep cutting either side of the railway. The proximity of local properties on both sides of the railway meant that an over-bridge solution was not viable. Box Jacking is a well tested technique for building tunnels and underpasses with minimal disruption to existing road and rail infrastructure.
The one at Cliffsend is believed to be the most impressive example of jacking within the last ten years, and at over 105m long, the longest jacked structure in the world. In order to construct the underpass 6 box sections with individual masses of 2,500T were cast on site and installed using hydraulic jacks, skid rails and thrust blocks.