NPA warns of spike in animal deaths ahead of closure of parts of A31 and A35
A SPIKE in animal deaths will likely result if drivers affected by the upcoming closure of parts of the A35 and A31 do not stick to official diversion routes, the national park authority has warned.
From Tuesday 4th January, an eight-mile section of the A35 will be closed for three months in both directions between Hinton’s St Michael and All Angels Church and the Vinney Ridge Inclosure junction while the worn-out Holmsley bridge is replaced.
On the same day, the slip road joining the westbound A31 from the Ringwood roundabout will also shut.
The national park authority is now warning that if too many motorists follow satellite navigation and deviate onto unfenced roads through the Forest, more animals will be killed during what is already the deadliest time of the year for them.
Executive director Steve Avery said most accidents involving stock over the winter months take place between 5pm and 10pm.
"If you do travel on the unfenced roads, please take extra care and always be prepared to stop for New Forest animals," he said. "Animals do not have any road sense so may step out in front of you even if you think they have seen you.
"Other road users might be unfamiliar with the roads so may well be nervous and travel slower; please be patient and don’t overtake unless you can clearly see the road ahead and any animals which may be grazing on the verges.
"Driving to the road and weather conditions is just as important as keeping to the speed limit. When the roads are freezing, stopping distances will be increased and animals are drawn to the road to lick the salt.
"Low light in winter, dazzling oncoming headlights and bad weather can make visibility extremely poor and may impede your view of the road ahead."
The NPA is also warning that deer can easily jump the fences on roads such as the A337, A31 and A35 – and where there is one more will usually follow.
For information on the road closures, which will also see a contraflow system introduced on 24th January, go to https://nationalhighways.co.uk/our-work/south-east/a31-ringwood-road-widening/ or www.hants.gov.uk/transport/transportschemes/holmsley-rail-bridge-replacement