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Cautious optimism for A35 reopening after months of disruption from Holmsley bridge replacement works

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THE weather could decide if one of the New Forest’s busiest routes can reopen on Sunday having been shut for months during the £5.5m Holmsley bridge replacement project.

Storms dashed previous hopes that the closure could be lifted on the A35 and the C10 Station Road on Friday with Hampshire County Council announcing the later date – conditions allowing.

There was cautious optimism from some local businesses, who claimed to have lost thousands of pounds in trade as a result of the roadworks, carried out by contractor Knights Brown

HCC’s update said structural concrete works to the new bridge had been completed, meaning the original 113-year-old structure alongside could be demolished.

Five days of resurfacing, including the laying of cats’ eyes, was due this week, dependent on dry conditions.

“If all goes to plan and the work is not delayed by wet weather, the A35 will reopen from midnight on Sunday 10th April,” HCC said.

The announcement was welcomed by Sybil Barnes, the landlady of the Swan Inn at Emery Down, who lamented the huge impact on business from a lack of passing trade.

“It is lovely news – we are looking forward to getting back to normal,” she told the A&T.

“We have lost £60,000 through the closure and nobody seems to care. That is not money that just goes in our pockets, but to pay rates and bills.

“So it is really important for it to reopen. It has been awful, especially on top of the pandemic.”

The New Forest Heritage Centre, off Gosport Lane in Lyndhurst, declined to comment but previously said the disruption slashed tourist and coach visits.

As reported in the A&T, New Milton councillor Steve Clarke hit out at HCC in January for not dealing with potholes along the B3055 Sway Road before diverting traffic along it.

He called the windy route between the town and Brockenhurst “absolutely dangerous”.

Cllr Clarke told the A&T: “I think it’s good news that it’s now nearing completion as I think there’s been too much traffic using Sway Road.

“If you look at the verges and the edges of the road, they have suffered.

“I would hope it will now be prioritised for resurfacing as there are still some dips and bumps that have been there for some time.”

He added: “Hopefully it will be open in time for Easter and the A35 will take the brunt of visitor traffic coming through the New Forest because if all that had to come down through the diversions, we would have had a lot of congestion.”

HCC added full completion is scheduled for June and stressed Knights Brown’s commitment to reopening the route by the Easter bank holiday weekend.

For the remainder of the works there will be localised traffic management on the A35, including two-way temporary traffic signals.

These will also be in place on the C10 Station Road, along with some overnight closures, while Holmsley Passage between the A35 and Station Road/Wilverley Road will remain shut until 30th June.

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