Kent County Council discusssed plans for a £12.2 million tunnel linking the bus route between Ebbsfleet Garden City and Bluewater for the Fastrack service.

It comes as construction continues on a housing development of 6,250 homes at Eastern Quarry, now known as Whitecliffe, bordered by Bean Road/Bluewater to one side and Ebbsfleet International on the other.

Two haulage tunnels previously used during the construction of Bluewater during the 1990’s still exist but investigations into their potential use found it would be more cost effective to construct a new tunnel.

KCC cabinet member for highways Mike Whiting said: “Fastrack is one of the core infrastructure projects for the Ebbsfleet Garden City and the completed scheme will contribute substantially to getting people onto public transport.

“In the design, every resident will be within 10 minutes of a Fastrack stop and 90% within five minutes ensuring that residents and business users can move freely around the development and between housing, business and leisure locations.”

As part of the highway infrastructure for the development, a residential road network will be constructed that crosses the Spine Road and will link to the existing Hedge Place roundabout on Bean Road at the Northern edge of Bluewater.

This route could be made available for Fastrack but a continuation of the dedicated Spine Road through a tunnel under Bean Road going directly into Bluewater and the bus interchange is much quicker and appropriate for the Fastrack as a premium bus service.

The route would also incorporate a footpath and cycleway linking Eastern Quarry and Bluewater.

The works would be delivered by KCC using forward funding and investment funding from the Ebbsfleet Development Corporation and Bluewater.

All  recommendations at KCC’s Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee were approved and a decision will be made later on whether to proceed following a public consultation.