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Brief closures on A31 near Ringwood start today (Tuesday) amid ongoing National Highways work to upgrade the commuter route

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TODAY (Tuesday) will see the first of seven brief closures of the A31 amid a major ongoing project to upgrade the route.

As part of work to demolish the western section of the A31 River Avon bridge, constructions teams are having to cut the bridge deck into pieces and lift them onto tipper trucks, while a large 750-tonne crane will lift the old bridge beams.

Due to the massive size of the beams, National Highways say traffic must be stopped so the beams can be moved over onto the eastbound carriageway.

The bridge deck is being demolished
The bridge deck is being demolished

That is due to happen seven times between today and Friday, and expected to take around 15 minutes on each occasion, but there are no specific timings.

While this is happening traffic will be held using a rolling road block on the A31 at Ringwood on both carriageways, including the contraflow, between the Poulner junctions and Ashley Heath Roundabout.

In its latest project development newsletter, National Highways said: "We’ll remove the road surface and barriers, then dismantle the [River Avon] bridge deck using a hydraulic hammer and equipment that breaks up and ‘munches’ the concrete.

"This will allow us to remove each of the fourteen lengthwise metal beams that make up the bridge deck

"The west span will be removed this month and the east span (closest to the Ringwood junction) will be removed in June. We plan to start demolition on the Bickerley Millstream bridge in July.

"We’ll be doing this work during the day, and some of the work may be noisy. We’re sorry for any disturbance this may cause. We’ll be monitoring noise and vibration levels and are working with the environmental team at the council."

It added that "some overnight closures of the A31 will be needed to remove the old bridge beams from site and deliver the new beams", and it would let residents know when that will be.

National Highways said progress was being made on the project, stating that over the May bank holiday weekend contractors installed a floating platform beneath the River Avon bridge.

That allows them to access the underside of the bridge, catch any falling debris during demolition and ensure minimum disruption to the wildlife, including Atlantic Salmon, otters and bats.

Contractors were also working longer hours, from 7am to 8pm on weekdays and 7.30am to 1.30pm or 5.30pm on Saturdays and 9am to 5pm when required on Sundays, it said.

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