ONE of the busiest roads in the New Forest could be transformed under multi-million-pound plans to tackle traffic jams ahead of proposals for 1,500 new homes.
The southern end of the A326, the often congested link between the Waterside, Totton and the M27, has got the green light for a series of junction upgrades costing £8.1m.
Meanwhile at the northern end, between Marchwood and junction 2 of the motorway, the go-ahead has been given for exploratory studies with an eye to turn the entire section into dual carriageway.
Construction on the southern half is set start in the summer, kicking off 12 months of roadworks, including widening junctions and adding pedestrian crossings.
The projects are to expand capacity to reduce peak congestion in advance of outline proposals to build about 1,500 homes at the former Fawley power station. They are currently being considered by New Forest District Council and the national park authority.
Seven junctions will be improved by Hampshire County Council in the southern scheme, including a stretch of the B3053 at Fawley.
Cllr Rob Humby, HCC’s Conservative cabinet member for economy, transport and environment, gave the go-ahead on Tuesday, describing them as “modest improvements”.
One of the top concerns voiced by residents about the power station redevelopment was the impact of extra traffic from new homes and businesses, said a report to Cllr Humby.
Developer Fawley Waterside Ltd is contributing £2.4m towards the roads scheme, with the rest comprising £5.7m of government funding via the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership.
Cllr Humby said: “The improvements include increasing capacity at these eight junctions, improving access for communities to areas of employment and education, while supporting the economic prosperity of the area.”
Turning to possible further work at the northern end, Cllr Humby said: “Any improvement proposals are likely to involve major upgrade works for the road, public transport, walking and cycling improvements, which will need significant government funding.
“The work we are currently doing on studies and options should enable us to put forward a funding bid in due course.”
The promised improvements come as political parties on the county council prepare for the run-in to local elections in May next year.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Malcolm Wade, of Dibden and Hythe said the proposals were not enough to solve the congestion. He called for investment in reopening the Waterside railway line to passengers, more buses and expanding the Hythe ferry route.
He said: “The idea of putting an extra lane round a roundabout does not increase capacity, it just increases the speed. It’s convoy traffic there and more needs to be done.”
Tory Cllr Alexis McEvoy, of South Waterside, said: “Of course I welcome any improvements to the congested A326 as upgrades to this busy road are long overdue. Changes also affect people’s behaviours and only time will tell how effective the changes will be.
“I was a little disappointed not to see substantial cycle routes incorporated in the design but I am hopeful this will come with further consultations. It’s easy to be critical but this is a good start.”
The A326 south junction improvements are scheduled for completion in the summer of 2021 and comprise:
- Blackfield Road / Church Lane / B3053: Signalisation of junction and crossing
- Long Lane / A326 (Holbury roundabout): Widening of approaches and exit lanes
- A326 / Holbury Drove: New southbound right-turn painted island and new crossing
- A326 / Southbourne Avenue: New southbound right-turn island
- Hardley roundabout: Widening of approaches and exit lanes
- Dibden Purlieu roundabout: Widening of approaches and exit lanes
- Applemore roundabout (Sizer Way): Widening of approaches and exit lanes
- Dibden roundabout: Widening of approaches and exit lanes, and new crossing
For more information visit www.hants.gov.uk/transport/transportschemes/a326southfawleywaterside.
What do you think? Write to the Advertiser and Times via email@example.com.