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Hampshire County Council chooses preferred improvement option for A326 – if Department for Transport gives millions

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HAMPSHIRE County Council has selected an improvement plan for the A326 which will kick into gear if it is granted millions in funding by the government.

The measures would include a two-lane dual carriageway between Michigan Way and Cocklydown junctions, a second lane southbound between the Houndsdown merge and the Staplewood junction, and a new cycleway alongside the A326.

There would also be improvements to the Michigan Way and Rushington roundabouts and junctions such as Monkton Lane and Jacobs Gutter Lane, including enlarging roads, new markings and signage, and closing off some movements to improve traffic flow and safety.

The A326 is set for a host of improvements
The A326 is set for a host of improvements

The plan was backed by Cllr Rob Humby who also holds HCC’s economy, transport and environment portfolio.

But he warned it would only happen with a successful bid for up to £15m from the Department for Transport and private sector help.

Cllr Humby said: “It is important that if there is to be development on the Waterside that the private sector or others come forward with match-funding commitments within the next year.

“If they are unable to, then future bids for transport enhancements may be rejected.”

The improvements were selected by Cllr Humby as one of four options which have gone out for public consultation and were scrutinised by HCC officers.

Cllr Rob Humby
Cllr Rob Humby

It was deemed to have the best impact without being overly expensive.

HCC will next conduct a feasibility study before it goes out again to public consultation with more detail.

HCC has a stated aim of increasing traffic capacity on an improved A326, especially in light of the incoming 1,500-home Fawley Waterside development and Solent Freeport plan.

It is already delivering an improvement scheme for the A326 southern section, between Dibden and Fawley, funded by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership and Fawley Waterside Ltd, the company developing the old power station site with 1,500 homes.

Cllr Humby said HCC wanted to minimise the environmental impact of the scheme. New Forest District Council will compile a report on how that can be best achieved.

But Cllr David Harrison, county member for Totton South and Marchwood, expressed concerns the plans would have “a significant impact” in terms of light pollution.

He lamented there will be “limited ability” for local councillors “to do anything about this”, adding the scheme affirms his suspicion of a future port expansion on the Waterside.

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