A31 Ringwood road widening
Widening the A31 to three lanes at Ringwood, between the A31 junction for Ringwood town centre, the B3347 Mansfield Road and the B3081 Verwood Underpass.
The A31 is an important route between Bournemouth and the Southern Coast. It experiences delays at peak times, which is caused by a high volume of traffic and the number of junctions that are close together. The route also experiences heavy seasonal congestion during the summer months, particularly during the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Our scheme will add a third lane in the westbound direction providing additional capacity. Traffic joining from the Ringwood junction onto A31 will do so via a new lane, rather than trying than merge with traffic already on the road.
We’ll be replacing the bridges that take the road over the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream, and they will be widened to allow for the additional lane.
The access to the A31 from West Street, Ringwood, will be closed, as the difference in speed between vehicles joining from West Street and those already on the A31, poses a risk for drivers.
We’re also working closely with Ringwood Town Council, Hampshire County Council and the New Forest District Council to improve routes for cyclists and pedestrians around Ringwood and the surrounding area.
The scheme will help achieve the following key strategic outcomes, as outlined in the National Highways Delivery Plan 2015-2020
Supporting Economic Growth
Supporting the development of housing and the creation of jobs, as set out in the existing and emerging Local Plans.
A safe serviceable network
Improving road safety for all road users. Due to the improvements being designed to modern highway standards appropriate for a strategic road, safety will be improved as a result of a reduction in delays, congestion and queue lengths.
A more free-flowing network
Increasing the resilience of the road in coping with incidents such as collisions, breakdowns, maintenance and extreme weather. The improved route at A31 Ringwood will be more reliable, reducing journey times and providing capacity for future traffic growth.
An improved environment
Protecting the environment from adverse impacts during and post construction for those living along the existing A31 Ringwood and minimising the impact of new infrastructure on the natural and built environment. Focus during stage 3 of the works will be in reducing construction related impacts on nearby sensitive ecological receptors, namely migratory salmon.
An accessible and integrated network
Ensuring the proposals take into account local communities and access to the road network, providing a safer route between communities for cyclists, walkers, equestrians and other non-motorist groups.
Value for Money
Ensuring that the scheme is affordable and delivers good value for money.
Alongside our scheme to replace the bridges and widen on the A31 at Ringwood, we have been working with Hampshire County Council and Ringwood Town Council to look at ways to improve access for pedestrians and cyclists within the town.
In February 2021, Hampshire County Council started work in West Street to provide better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, based on the Ringwood Town Plan. These improvements included widening the footpath along the north side of the street and building a new footway over the ‘brick bridge’. This work was completed in August 2021.
The work in West Street has coincided with the closure of the access to the A31. Traffic coming onto the A31 at this junction posed a risk to drivers already on the road and those joining.
Before we start work on the A31, we need to move some existing utilities.
As we will be rebuilding and widening both road bridges on the westbound carriageway, work to move the electricity cable that runs through the existing bridges started on 31 March 2021. The cable will be diverted to run along West Street, through a section of Market Place and connect into the network in the car park of St Peter and St Paul’s church. To minimise disruption, this work has been timed to be completed at the same time as Hampshire County Council’s work in West Street.
Bournemouth Water will start work to divert a water main away from the A31 in June 2021. The new pipe will run through Ringwood town centre, the field near Verwood and under the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream. Although there hasn’t been any issues with this section of pipe historically the new pipe will make the network more resilient.
Our final utility diversion is a BT cable that is within the road bridges. The current proposal is that a temporary cable will be put under the A31 eastbound carriageway while we rebuild the bridges. To enable us to lay the temporary cable safely, we’ll need to temporarily close the A31 westbound. This will be done overnight to minimise impact on traffic. We’ll give you as much notice as possible of the closure to allow you to plan ahead. The permanent new cable will be installed once the new bridges are in place.
We will start preparatory work on the A31 in September 2021, with main construction starting in January 2022. The road will be open to traffic in November 2022.
As we need to demolish and rebuild the bridges that carry the westbound carriageway, a full westbound closure is needed. A contraflow will be in place for main construction to retain two lanes of westbound and eastbound traffic.
The bridges were built prior to 1934, and are approaching the end of their design life. They are being rebuilt as part of the widening scheme to reduce the disruption to the local community of another scheme needing to complete this work at later date.
Our project team have planned the work as efficiently and safely as possible, while minimising disruption to customers and keeping the traffic on the road moving.
Crossover construction: eastbound and westbound carriageway
Mid-September 2021 and run till mid-December 2021
The construction of these crossovers will start in mid-September 2021 and run till mid-December 2021. We will complete this work in two phases.
Phase one: September 2021 to early October 2021
To allow the contraflow to be put in place, we need to construct crossover points. These cross the central reservation and allow traffic to move between the two carriageways when the barrier has been removed.
We will be constructing three crossovers – one at each end of our working area, and one in the middle, providing an access point between the two bridges.
The first will run from 20 September 2021, until early October 2021. During this phase we will close two lanes on the eastbound carriageway and one on the westbound carriageway overnight, 8pm til 6am Monday to Friday.
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Phase two: Late October 2021 to early December 2021
The second phase will run from late October 2021 to early December 2021. During this time, we will need to close two lanes eastbound and the width of the lane closest to the central reservation on the westbound carriageway will be reduced. The Verwood eastbound entry slip will also be closed for safety reasons.
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Drainage and signage works: eastbound carriageway
October 2021 to November 2021
From early October through to early November, we will be installing new signs, upgrading the drainage and carrying out barrier work on the eastbound carriageway.
To allow us to complete this work safely, there will be lane closures on the eastbound carriageway of the A31 and we will be closing the access to the A31 from the Verwood eastbound slip road, 24-hours a day. Traffic wanting to join the eastbound carriageway from the Verwood junction will need to do so via the westbound carriageway and Ashley Heath roundabout.
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Gantry removal: westbound and eastbound carriageway
For everyone’s safety, while we lift out the gantry close to the eastbound Ringwood exit slip, a full closure of the eastbound and westbound carriageway is needed. This closure will be overnight, 8pm til 6am, in mid-November for one night. A diversion will be in place.
Ringwood roundabout westbound slip road
Mid-November 2021 to November 2022
The slip road where traffic joins the westbound carriageway from the Ringwood roundabout will be closed from mid-November 2021 to November 2022.
The distance between the slip road and the first bridge we will be removing does not provide enough space to safely get traffic into the contraflow, meaning we will need to keep the slip closed through construction. There are also limited access points for construction traffic, so we will be using it to provide access for machinery, deliveries and personnel during construction.
Before the main construction work starts, we will be carrying out some improvements to the slip road, including widening the road from one to two lanes, moving utilities and installing new drainage.
During the closure a diversion route will be in place via the Poulner Hill junction.
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A31 bridge replacement and road widening work
January 2022 to November 2022
Our main construction work to replace the bridges and widen the A31 at Ringwood will start in January 2022, running until November 2022. We will be:
- Replacing the bridges that take the westbound carriageway over the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream.
- Constructing a new third lane in the westbound carriageway, providing a dedicated lane for traffic joining from the Ringwood roundabout.
- Increasing the width of the slip road for traffic joining westbound from the Ringwood roundabout from one to two lanes.
- Upgrading the drainage on the main carriageway and slip roads.
- Improving facilities for walkers and cyclists in the local area and link with routes in and around the area.
As we need to demolish and rebuild the bridges that carry the westbound carriageway, a full westbound closure is needed. A contraflow will be in place for main construction to retain two lanes of westbound and eastbound traffic. Traffic wanting to join the A31 westbound at Ringwood will need to follow the diversion and join the eastbound carriageway to Poulner Hill where you can join the A31 westbound.