OVERNIGHT lane closures started last night to mark the start of work on a new A338 junction scheme running into next year.
It came just as authorities are celebrating reopening of the full A338/Blackwater Junction on time and on budget after a £10m improvement.
From last night (Monday) the Blackwater West junction and the A338 slip roads are now being closed from 8pm to 6am for up to seven nights to avoid restricting traffic at peak times.
This week’s new scheme is to install temporary traffic signals as part of the initial phase of constructing a more efficient new B3073 Blackwater West Junction.
The permanent signals have been switched off to be replaced with a temporary signal system, similar to that used during the Blackwater East Junction works which helped minimise the impact on those travelling via the B3073.
This week’s temporary signal system work involves installing the new signals’ power supplies and road crossing before removing the existing power supplies.
Once the temporary lights are in place the old signals, poles, cables and existing traffic islands will be removed and reinstated with asphalt to move the traffic lanes to their new position.
In addition two gas main road crossings will be installed, one across the A338 on slip and the other on the B3073. This will be followed by new line markings and installation of temporary barriers.
Simultaneously work will also be carried out at Hurn Roundabout this Thursday and Friday nights, for kerbing and surfacing works, with three-way temporary traffic lights in place at the Matchams Lane/Avon Causeway Junction.
The new Blackwater West signal improvement works are scheduled to last until spring 2020 with no impact on the main A338 Spur Road.
The improvements form part of the £45.2m investment in Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership’s Bournemouth International Growth (BIG) Programme, aimed at facilitating better access into and around Bournemouth Airport, unlocking employment land and stimulating economic growth.
Earlier, Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), BCP Council and Dorset Council welcomed reopening of all four lanes of the A338 ahead of the main summer holiday period.
The nine-month long scheme formed part of the BIG programme’s transport and infrastructure projects, funded through Dorset LEP secured growth deal funding aimed at driving economic growth. The project follows the major reconstruction of the A338 in 2016.
Of the new Blackwater West junction improvements, Cllr Andy Hadley, BCP Council cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, said: “This latest scheme in the BIG Programme will widen the existing junction on all sides to allow for additional capacity and improved traffic signals as well as improved pedestrian and cycling facilities.
“We would advise motorists to plan their journeys while these overnight closures are in place to minimise disruption and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.’’
There will be some noise due to the nature of this work but every endeavour will be made to keep disruption to a minimum.
The signed diversion route will be via B3073 Christchurch Road, B3073 Parley Lane, B3073 Christchurch Road, A348 Ringwood Road, A341 Wimborne Road, A347 Whitelegg Way, A3060 Castle Lane West, A3060 Castle Lane East, A35 Barrack Road, B3073 Bargates, B3073 Fairmile Road and B3073 Hurn Road.
The latest A338 investment has included improving and extending slip roads at the Blackwater junction and Cooper Dean roundabout and widening of the bridge over the River Stour to carry an extra lane.
Cllr Margaret Phipps, BCP cabinet member for strategic planning, added: “For their duration the long delays to motorists across a wide area of Christchurch and Bournemouth have been very frustrating, particularly at morning and evening rush hours.
“It is good news that we can all now look forward to free flowing traffic through Blackwater Junction to Cooper Dean.”