A31 Ringwood road widening

Widening the A31 to three lanes at Ringwood, between the A31 junction for Ringwood town centre, the B3347 Mansfield Road and the B3081 Verwood Underpass.

Start date 2020-21
End date TBC
Cost £25 to 30 million

Latest updates

  • 19 May 2022

    Bridge demolition update - 12 May

    UPDATE: 19 May – we’ve lifted out all the old beams from the western (closest to the Verwood junction) side of the River Avon bridge. Thank you to everyone for your patience while we temporarily held traffic to lift these beams safely.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Following our recent preparation work, we’ve now started to demolish the western section (closest to the Verwood junction) of the River Avon bridge. To do this we’re cutting the bridge deck into pieces and a crane is lifting it into tipper trucks that will take it off site.  This section of the bridge is supported by seven beams, which we’ll need to lift out next week between Tuesday 17 to Friday 20 May.

    A large crane will arrive on site on Monday 16 May to lift out the old beams. As each beam is exposed, it will be raised by crane and moved to another section of the site, before being broken up and removed. In order to remove these beams safely we’ll slow and stop A31 traffic for a short time. This will happen seven times between Tuesday 17 to Friday 20 May, and only when a beam has been prepared for removal. This will take no more than 15 minutes, and we’ll make sure it is done during off-peak times to minimise the impact on everyone using the A31.

  • 03 May 2022

    Bridge demolition update - 3 May

    We installed a floating platform beneath the River Avon bridge over the Bank Holiday weekend so that demolition of the west side of the bridge can begin on 3 May. The platform, known as a pontoon will allow us to access the underside of the bridge and catch any falling debris.

    Demolition of the bridge will begin with removing the road surface, kerbs and barriers.  Following this we will then dismantle the bridge deck using a hydraulic hammer and concrete pulverising method which breaks up and ‘munches’ the concrete to expose the metal reinforcement underneath. The reinforcement will be cut and removed with the concrete to expose the bridge support beams, so that they can be lifted out and removed from site.

    This work will require large cranes and other machinery being brought to site. We’re sorry for any disturbance or inconvenience caused by these activities.

    Removal of the east side of the River Avon bridge will begin in June, with the Bickerley Millstream bridge following in July.

    Installation of the new bridge decks will begin in mid-August.

    Overnight closures of the A31 will be advertised in due course.

  • 22 April 2022

    Bridge demolition update

    A31 Ringwood April 2022

    Our work to prepare to demolish the bridges on the westbound A31 is well underway.

    As you may be aware, the two bridges being replaced, over the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream, are within environmentally sensitive areas, meaning work above them can only take place between the start of May and the end of October.

    To make sure there are no delays to us starting the bridge demolition in May, we’ve agreed with the local Environmental Health team to temporarily extend our working hours to keep on track.

    With the days getting longer, we’ll be extending our possible working hours during the week to 8pm. We’ll also be working over the Bank Holiday weekend of 30 April to 2 May – our hours will be: Saturday, 7.30am to 5.30pm, and Sunday and the Bank Holiday Monday, 9am to 5pm. This will ensure we complete the retaining walls and new supports by 3 May.

    Over the bank holiday weekend we’ll be installing the floating platforms, known as pontoons, on the river to allow us to access the undersides of the bridges and catch any minor debris during the demolition phase.

    These works will not affect A31 traffic as all activities are taking place within the closed westbound section.

    We’re sorry for any disturbance or inconvenience caused by these longer working hours.

    More details of our work, including when and where we'll be completing piling activities, can be found under 'Delivering our Improvements' further down this page.

    Emergency repairs by Southern Gas Networks at Hangersley Junction

    We have been made aware that Southern Gas Networks is carrying out emergency repairs at the Hangersley Junction, by the In-Excess Garden Centre, east of Ringwood. The exit slip is currently closed to allow repairs of a gas main.

    For more information, please contact Southern Gas Networks on 0800 912 1700 or visit their website.

  • 20 April 2022

    Preparation for bridge demolition to start

    From 12 April for around six weeks, we’ll be building the foundations for the new bridge supports and installing retaining walls. This will allow us to bring in cranes to start demolishing the bridges.

    This work will be carried out using piling, which is a method of installing foundations, posts and walls. We will use large specialist drills and cranes to drill holes that are filled with concrete into the ground to create the retaining walls by pushing piles into the ground using a technique vibratory piling. This uses vibrations to sink the retaining walls into the ground.

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

    More details of this work, including when we'll be completing each activity, can be found under 'Delivering our Improvements' further down this page.

    Specialist piling machines

    Examples of the types of machines used for piling

    Ringwood Town Council

    We are in regular contact with Ringwood Town Council to discuss concerns raised by local retailers and residents. We also meet with the Hampshire and Dorset County Council highways teams to minimise the impact of roadworks on local journeys.

    Pedestrian Crossings

    We have added signs advising drivers of the pedestrian crossing on the slip road from Ringwood onto the A31 towards Poulner Hill, and have also reduced the speed limit. Please report any speeding or dangerous driving to the Police.

  • 28 January 2022

    Our contraflow is now in place

    We’ve installed our contraflow, so that everyone travelling between Ringwood and Verwood will be moved onto the eastbound carriageway with two lanes running in each direction. This allows us to widen the westbound carriageway and replace the bridges over the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream safely, with reduced impact on the A31.

    The westbound entrance from the Ringwood roundabout onto the A31, the westbound exit from the A31 towards Verwood and the eastbound entrance from Verwood onto the A31 are now closed until the end of November 2022. This is because there is not enough room for traffic to safely join the A31

    We are in regular contact with Ringwood Town Council to discuss concerns raised by local retailers and residents. We also meet with the Hampshire and Dorset County Council Highways Teams to minimise the impact of roadworks on journeys.

    Footpath closure

    We will need to close the footpath between West Street and the Verwood Junction for a short time when we undertake the upgrade works to the path. We expect this to take around 2-4 weeks and we’ll provide an alternative path for people to use. We will share dates and details in advance of these works.

  • 05 January 2022

    Traffic management update

    We are aware of the concerns raised by Ringwood Town Council, local retailers and residents around the impact that the westbound entry slip closure may have on the town during the scheme works. As such, we have reviewed the approach and phasing of the A31 Ringwood Bridge Replacement and Widening scheme and will be making the following changes:

    • The closure of the slip road that allows vehicles to join the westbound A31 from the Ringwood roundabout has been postponed until 4 January 2022. This closure was due to start on 15 November 2021.
    • The contraflow will now be in place by 26 January 2022.

    We've recently moved our traffic management, and the two lanes closest to the central reservation on the eastbound carriageway are now closed. This is to allow us to carry out work within the central reservation. These lane closures will stay in place over the Christmas period to allow work to restart in the new year.

    These changes have been made to ensure the safety of those working on the scheme and road users, feedback from the local community, and events outside of the projects control.

    Verwood slip road closure extended

    At the end of October, we closed the slip road used by traffic joining the A31 eastbound at Verwood. Due to the changes in traffic management this closure will now remain in place until we complete the project in November 2022. This is due to safety, as the slip road joins the road where we are moving vehicles on the A31 into the contraflow. 

    Gantry removal closures

    Thank you to everyone for their patience during the recent overnight closures on the A31 to remove the gantry over the eastbound carriageway. This work is now complete.  

    Gantry being lifted out above the A31

    Gantry being lifted out over the A31 at Ringwood

    Footpath

    We’ve received feedback about our proposal to close the footpath next to the westbound carriageway of the A31 between West Street and Hurn Lane. The footpath is due to close on 4 January 2022. However, we are currently reviewing our plans to check if we can keep the footpath open safely during the works, we will share the results when we have explored all the options. 

  • 05 October 2021

    Want to know more about our work on the A31?

    Thank you to everyone who attended one of our information sessions to find out more about our work to widen the A31 and replace the bridges that carry the road over the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream.

    You can find the information presented by the team under 'Delivering our improvements' in the project information section below.

    If you, or someone you know, still has any questions about our project, we are happy to set up a call with one of the team. Either email us on a31ringwood@nationalhighways.co.uk or call 0300 123 5000 to arrange.

    Overnight closures on A31

    While we complete our work to rebuild the bridges and widen the westbound A31 at Ringwood, we will have a contraflow in place. This means there will be two lanes of traffic running in both directions on the eastbound side of the carriageway throughout construction.

    To allow the contraflow to be put in place next year, we need to construct crossover points. These cross the central reservation and allow traffic to move between the two carriageways when the barrier has been removed.

    There will be three crossover points – one at each end of our working area, and one in the middle, providing an access point between the two bridges. 

    The construction of these crossovers will be completed in two phases. The first phase will start on 20 September 2021, running until early October. During this phase we will close two lanes of the eastbound carriageway and one on the westbound carriageway overnight, Monday to Friday starting after 8pm, once traffic reduces, reopening by 6am.

    Our work on the gantry has moved to November.

  • 12 August 2021

    West Street improvements complete

    Work to improve access for residents, walkers and cyclists in West Street is now complete, providing a place for families to walk and enjoy the local environment

    These improvements were carried out by Hampshire County Council ahead of our work to replace the bridges and widen the A31, which is due to start later this year, and have been funded through our Designated Funds.

    West Street Ringwood improvements

    The completed work includes:

    • Widening the footpath along the west side of West Street to improve accessibility for cyclists and walkers
    • New kerbs and environmental planting
    • Building a new footpath over the ‘brick bridge’
    • Widening the footpath over the ‘old Stony’ bridge
    • Reversing the one way at The Furlong
    • Introducing new priority give way signs at both bridges to accompany the new and improved footpaths over them
    • Resurfacing both bridges
    • Laying new electrical cable along the length of West Street in advance of the main A31 work.
    • Closing access to the A31 from West Street and erecting signage on the A31 to advise drivers of the West Street closure.

    Further footway and cycleway improvements adjacent to our main scheme on the A31 are planned.

  • 02 February 2021

    Improvement work to start on West Street, Ringwood

    We’ve been busy working on our plans to improve the A31 Ringwood – one of the most congested stretches of road in our network. We’ll start our work to widen the road later this year, but ahead of this you may notice some other activities linked to our improvements.

    Our plans will see access to the A31 from West Street closed permanently for safety reasons, as traffic joining from this junction poses a risk to drivers. Ahead of the closure, Hampshire County Council will be working in West Street from 15 February, to improve access for pedestrians and cyclists to complement the improvements along the A31. More information about the improvements can be found on Hampshire County Council’s website

    Access to the A31 from West Street will be permanently closed from 1 March.

    To save time and keep disruption to a minimum, we’re also bringing forward some of the other activities planned for West Street. This means the following work will all take place at the same time: 

    • widening the footpath along the west side of West Street to improve accessibility for cyclists and walkers.
    • new kerbs and environmental planting.
    • building a new footpath over the ‘brick bridge’.
    • widening the footpath over the ‘old Stony’.
    • introducing new priority give way signs at both bridges to accompany the new and improved footpaths over them.
    • resurfacing both bridges.
    • laying new electrical cable along the length of West Street in advance of the A31 works.

    The work in West Street is scheduled to finish by the end of July 2021.

    We also need to divert a water main ahead of work starting our improvements on the A31. More information about this will be available soon.

Project information

Give us your feedback

Visit our A31 Ringwood feedback tool to have your say. The tool includes an interactive map. You can click on a location to make a specific comment, or give us your general feedback.

ECHO is a one-way feedback tool, so if you’d like a response to your feedback you can email the project team at: a31ringwood@nationalhighways.co.uk

A31 Ringwood project map

The A31 is an important route between Bournemouth and the Southern Coast. It experiences delays at peak times, which is caused by a high volume of traffic and the number of junctions that are close together. The route also experiences heavy seasonal congestion during the summer months, particularly during the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Our scheme will add a third lane in the westbound direction providing additional capacity. Traffic joining from the Ringwood junction onto A31 will do so via a new lane, rather than trying than merge with traffic already on the road.

We’ll be replacing the bridges that take the road over the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream, and they will be widened to allow for the additional lane.

The access to the A31 from West Street, Ringwood, will be closed, as the difference in speed between vehicles joining from West Street and those already on the A31, poses a risk for drivers. 

We’re also working closely with Ringwood Town Council, Hampshire County Council and the New Forest District Council to improve routes for cyclists and pedestrians around Ringwood and the surrounding area.

The scheme will help achieve the following key strategic outcomes, as outlined in the National Highways Delivery Plan 2015-2020

Supporting Economic Growth

Supporting the development of housing and the creation of jobs, as set out in the existing and emerging Local Plans.

A safe serviceable network

Improving road safety for all road users. Due to the improvements being designed to modern highway standards appropriate for a strategic road, safety will be improved as a result of a reduction in delays, congestion and queue lengths.

A more free-flowing network

Increasing the resilience of the road in coping with incidents such as collisions, breakdowns, maintenance and extreme weather. The improved route at A31 Ringwood will be more reliable, reducing journey times and providing capacity for future traffic growth.

An improved environment

Protecting the environment from adverse impacts during and post construction for those living along the existing A31 Ringwood and minimising the impact of new infrastructure on the natural and built environment. Focus during stage 3 of the works will be in reducing construction related impacts on nearby sensitive ecological receptors, namely migratory salmon.

An accessible and integrated network

Ensuring the proposals take into account local communities and access to the road network, providing a safer route between communities for cyclists, walkers, equestrians and other non-motorist groups.

Value for Money

Ensuring that the scheme is affordable and delivers good value for money.

West Street

Alongside our scheme to replace the bridges and widen on the A31 at Ringwood, we have been working with Hampshire County Council and Ringwood Town Council to look at ways to improve access for pedestrians and cyclists within the town.

In February 2021, Hampshire County Council started work in West Street to provide better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, based on the Ringwood Town Plan. These improvements included widening the footpath along the north side of the street and building a new footway over the ‘brick bridge’. This work was completed in August 2021.

The improvements were funded through our Designated Funds scheme, and sit separate from the main project. More information about the work can be found on Hampshire County Council’s website.

The work in West Street has coincided with the closure of the access to the A31. Traffic coming onto the A31 at this junction posed a risk to drivers already on the road and those joining.

Environmental constraints & noise – our biggest challenge

The Ringwood area is an environmentally sensitive area. The River Avon at Ringwood is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and used by migratory Atlantic Salmon to reach spawning grounds further up river. They are a heavily protected species. The Environment Agency and Natural England have placed some conditions around when we’re able to work on the bridge replacement aspects of the scheme.

No construction activity that would have a significant noise or vibration impact to the river can be undertaken between 1 November and 30 April, reducing our bridge demolition and construction window to six months of the year. If any bridge demolition or construction activities that have a significant noise or vibration impact on the river were to take place during this time, we would be breaking the law and facing a fine.

These environmental restrictions mean that we can only work near or above the River Avon between 1 May and 30 October.

A31 bridge over the River Avon

Bridge demolition

Our structures team carry out regular surveys of our bridges. The two bridges on the westbound carriageway – the Bickerley Millstream bridge and the River Avon bridge – were due for replacement by 2030 because they are approaching the end of their design life. By combining the widening and bridge replacement schemes on the A31, we’re reducing the overall disruption that would have been caused by having two separate projects.   

The westbound bridges are going to be replaced in their entirety. The supports, known as abutments, that are next to the riverbank will be left so we don’t disturb the riverbank. There will be new walls and pilling behind the abutments to support the new bridge decks.

We will use pontoons on the rivers when we start demolishing the current bridges to ensure no debris enters the watercourse. The pontoons will also collect the runoff of water from the cutting operations prior to lifting out the bridge sections.

We’re not aware of any significant issues on the third bridge over the River Avon, so no work will be done to that bridge as part of our scheme.

There is no works to be undertaken to the eastbound carriageway bridges, they were upgraded on the late 1970s, and they should have at least 50 to 70 years of design life left.

Working in partnership

We've been working closely with the local highway authorities to assist with minimising the impact on the local road network while we complete our improvements on the A31.

As part of this joint approach, Hampshire County Council have produced a plan to explain how it will be working to minimise the impact on the roads around Ringwood and the surrounding area. Any questions on this, please contact Hampshire County Council.

We started preparatory work on the A31 in September 2021, with main construction starting in January 2022. The road will be open to traffic in November 2022.

As we need to demolish and rebuild the bridges that carry the westbound carriageway, a full westbound closure is needed. A contraflow will be in place for main construction to retain two lanes of westbound and eastbound traffic.

The bridges were built prior to 1934, and are approaching the end of their design life. They are being rebuilt as part of the widening scheme to reduce the disruption to the local community of another scheme needing to complete this work at later date.

Our project team have planned the work as efficiently and safely as possible, while minimising disruption to customers and keeping the traffic on the road moving.

Ringwood roundabout westbound slip road
January 2022 to November 2022

The slip road where traffic joins the westbound carriageway from the Ringwood roundabout will be closed from January 2021 to November 2022.

The distance between the slip road and the first bridge we will be removing does not provide enough space to safely get traffic into the contraflow, meaning we will need to keep the slip closed through construction. There are also limited access points for construction traffic, so we will be using it to provide access for machinery, deliveries and personnel during construction.

Ringwood roundabout slip road closure

Click image to view larger 

Before the main construction work starts, we will carry out some improvements to the slip road, including widening the road from one to two lanes, moving utilities and installing new drainage.

During the closure a diversion route will be in place via the Poulner Hill junction.

Diversion routes for A31 Verwood slip road closures.

A31 bridge replacement and road widening work
January 2022 to November 2022

Our main construction work to replace the bridges and widen the A31 at Ringwood will start in January 2022, running until November 2022. We will be:

  • Replacing the bridges that take the westbound carriageway over the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream.
  • Constructing a new third lane in the westbound carriageway, providing a dedicated lane for traffic joining from the Ringwood roundabout.
  • Increasing the width of the slip road for traffic joining westbound from the Ringwood roundabout from one to two lanes.
  • Upgrading the drainage on the main carriageway and slip roads.
  • Improving facilities for walkers and cyclists in the local area and link with routes in and around the area.

As we need to demolish and rebuild the bridges that carry the westbound carriageway, a full westbound closure is needed. A contraflow will be in place for main construction to retain two lanes of westbound and eastbound traffic. Traffic wanting to join the A31 westbound at Ringwood will need to follow the diversion and join the eastbound carriageway to Poulner Hill where you can join the A31 westbound. While the contraflow is on place, there will be free 24-hour recovery. 

A31 bridge replacement and road widening work contraflow and diversion for traffic joining at Ringwood

Piling work - April to May 2022

From 12 April for around six weeks, we’ll be building the foundations for the new bridge supports and installing retaining walls. This will allow us to bring in cranes to start demolishing the bridges.

This work will be carried using piling, which is a method of installing foundations, posts and walls. We will use large specialist drills and cranes to drill holes that are filled with concrete into the ground to create the new bridge supports We will also create the retaining walls by pushing piles into the ground using a technique call vibratory piling. This uses vibrations to sink the retaining walls into the ground.

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

Our working hours are:

  • Monday to Friday: 7.30am to 8.00pm
  • Saturday: 7.30am to 5.30pm
  • Sunday & Bank Holidays: 9am to 5pm.

All activities are intermittent throughout this time. We apologise for any disturbance caused by these works.

Planned piling and demolition work - w/c 16 May

Piling locations 16 to 22 May

 

Mon

16

May

Tues

17

May

Weds

18

May

Thurs

19

May

Fri

20

May

Sat

21

May

Sun

22

May

Drilling

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Piling

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Demolition

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

An 'X' marks when we are working. 

Drilling – removing soil with a corkscrew drill. This will generate minor localised noise.

Piling – inserting metal sheets which form retaining walls. This will create noise and vibration.

Demolition – dismantling and cutting up the bridge deck. This will generate localised noise.

Planned piling and demolition work - w/c 23 May

Piling location 23 May to 29 May

 

Mon

23

May

Tues

24

May

Weds

25

May

Thurs

26

May

Fri

27

May

Sat

28

May

Sun

29

May

Drilling

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

Piling

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

Demolition

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

An 'X' marks when we are working. 

Drilling – removing soil with a corkscrew drill. This will generate minor localised noise.

Piling – inserting metal sheets which form retaining walls. This will create noise and vibration.

Demolition – dismantling and cutting up the bridge deck. This will generate localised noise.

Alongside our improvements on the A31 at Ringwood, we’re also continuing with our usual maintenance and repairs of the road. More information, along with other work we’re completing on our network, can be found on our South East maintenance schemes page.

Hampshire County Council are currently working to replace A35 Holmsley Rail Bridge. You can find out more about the scheme on Hampshire County Council's project webpage

If you would like information about any other roadworks being carried out, you can use one.network

Documents

Traffic information

Information about scheduled roadworks and events on our motorways and major roads.

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