Progress on multimillion-pound A326 widening scheme as plans are slammed by county councillor for Totton and Marchwood, Cllr David Harrison
PROGRESS on a multimillion-pound project to widen the A326 has been blasted by a local councillor who says the cash would be better spent repairing crumbling roads.
As reported in the A&T, Hampshire County Council’s proposed scheme involves a series of junction improvements and widening along the busy route between Totton and Dibden.
Leader of the council, Cllr Rob Humby, has agreed for the scheme to move to the next stage, which will see a detailed design developed so the council can apply for planning approval.
HCC will then submit an outline business case to the Department for Transport (DfT) for funding in the autumn.
But Liberal Democrat county councillor for Totton and Marchwood, Cllr David Harrison, told the A&T: “Personally, I would sooner spend the money on repairing our crumbling roads, fixing pot holes and attending to the numerous drainage issues.”
Aimed at increasing highway capacity, the scheme will also provide improved facilities for people walking and cycling, as well as new crossing facilities.
Cllr Humby said: “This strategically important scheme will address existing issues experienced by those who are living and working in or visiting the Waterside area of the New Forest.
“It will also support the wider Waterside Vision – which sets an ambition for the sustainable growth of the Waterside area – as well as expanding on a £50 million investment in schemes to improve transportation and travel that we’ve delivered and are delivering already in this part of the county.”
Cllr Harrison said the project, estimated to cost over £100 million, would do “very little” to speed up journey times, as not all of the A326 will be widened.
“Many people think that this is really about opening up the Waterside for port-related expansion for thousands of extra lorry movements and the future use of Dibden Bay”, he said.
He warned: “We still don’t know what impact there will be on the adjacent New Forest National Park and the vital tree buffers between the road and people’s homes.”
Cllr Humby said he had “considered in detail” responses from last summer’s public consultation and understood concerns that had been raised.
He added: “I am confident that construction of this scheme will be done sensitively with all due regard and care for the surrounding habitat.
“To mitigate the impact and enhance the local environment, a landscape plan will be developed alongside the highway design, which will maximise biodiversity along the route through.
“For example, creating species rich grasslands along new verges, planting trees and shrubs and redesigning a drainage tunnel through Bartley Water to ensure fish and otter movements can continue as they would usually.”