DATES have been announced for the third and final closure of the M27 at Romsey to complete a £19m bridge replacement – and it will mean a 70-mile detour for some Forest-bound traffic.
The planned January weekend closures have been selected to avoid the Christmas holidays and significant football fixtures. The detours are aimed at all users but locals are sure to find their own routes, such as on the A35 past Totton.
The work replaces the two concrete bridges which have carried the A3057 Romsey Road over the M27 since the 1970s. The structures’ bearings had failed and cracks were seen in the concrete beams.
The project began in April last year with demolition of the western bridge last autumn. The new 1,069-tonne bridge was constructed beside the motorway and lifted into place last June, with work completed more than a day ahead of schedule.
Since then utilities have been transferred from the remaining old eastern bridge to the new one, which successfully opened to vehicles and pedestrians on 5th December.
A Highways England spokesperson said: “We will be removing the redundant electricity cables and gas pipes from the old bridge, and prepare for the safe demolition of the old bridge on our third and final weekend closure.
“This will take place from Friday 10th January at 10pm, to Monday 13th January at 5am. In case of bad weather, the contingency weekend for this work will be Friday 31st January to Monday 3rd February 2020.”
He added: “We will be reverting to the diversion routes that were in operation during the first weekend closure in September 2018, when we demolished the western bridge. The eastbound diversion entails a number of different routes, depending on direction and the type of vehicle.”
These are comparatively short, from Junction 2 (Ower) via Romsey, North Baddesley and Chilworth for HGVs, joined by light traffic diverted from Junction 3 (M271).
But for all westbound traffic heading for the Forest and beyond coming from M27 in the Southampton area, the diversion route uses the M3 north past Winchester, the A34 to Bullington Cross, the A303 past Andover to Amesbury, down the A345 into Salisbury and on to the A36 towards the M27 at J2 (Ower) – a total of more than 70 miles.
The spokesman defended the long diversion, saying: “Working with our partners, we have selected diversion routes for the westbound which disperse the traffic as much as possible, make the best use of the Highways England network and avoid residential areas wherever possible.
“Following on from the first weekend closure, we listened to our customers and stakeholders’ feedback who largely felt that this was their preferred approach for demolition weekends.”
Romsey Road – the A3057 – will also be closed across the bridge for safety reasons during the work, starting earlier from 9pm on the Friday. This applies to all road users including vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians.
A signed diversion will be in place via the Chilworth Roundabout and North Baddesley.