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

  • 25 November 2021

    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. 

    Other closures coming up

    4 January 2022 to November 2022
    24-hours

    Closure of the Ringwood westbound entry slip.  

    To join the A31 westbound at Ringwood, follow the diversion via the A31 eastbound to Poulner Hill where you can join the A31 westbound.

    23 January 2022
    8pm to 6am

    Full closure of the A31 westbound between the Ringwood and Verwood junctions.

    24 January 2022
    8pm to 6am

    Full closure of the A31 eastbound between the Verwood and Ringwood Verwood junctions.

    25 January 2022
    8pm to 6am

    Full closure of the A31 westbound between the Ringwood and Verwood junctions.

     

    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. 

  • 20 October 2021

    Work update and Verwood slip road closure

    Our work to construct the crossovers that will be used to move traffic between the two carriageways when the contraflow is put in place is almost finished.

    This work has been completed during overnight lane closures and has taken slightly longer than expected due to poor weather. Thank you to everyone for your patience.

    The contraflow will be in place from January 2022, keeping two lanes running in each direction as we complete our work to replace the bridges that carry the A31 over the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream and widen the road.

    Verwood eastbound slip road closure

    The slip road that allows traffic to join the eastbound A31 at Verwood will be closed from 8pm 29 October for up to ten weeks. Due to the poor weather forecast over the next week, this closure is starting after the date that was originally advertised.

    This will provide us with a safe working area while we prepare the road for our main construction work to start in January 2022.

    During the closure, join the A31 westbound and use the Ashley Heath roundabout to access the eastbound carriageway.

    At the same time, we’ll have lane closures and width restrictions in place on both the eastbound and westbound carriageways.

    You can find more information about how we’re delivering the scheme under 'Delivering our improvements' in the project information section below.

  • 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@highwaysengland.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.

  • 03 June 2021

    Water main diversion update

    Bournemouth Water have been working with us on a scheme to divert a section of water main that will allow us to make our improvements to the A31 at Ringwood.

    This work is now due to start in early June 2021. Bournemouth Water will do their best to minimise any disruption to local residents and will be keeping everyone informed.

    We are waiting for more information from Bournemouth Water about their timeline for the work and will provide further updates soon.  

    For any queries regarding the water main works please contact Bournemouth Water.

  • 06 April 2021

    Meet the team virtual events

    Thank you to everyone who attended our meet the team sessions held at the end of March. These virtual sessions aim to provide you with more information about the project and gives you the chance to ask us questions. It also provides us with the opportunity to gather feedback and gain knowledge from the local community to help us to plan our work.

    For those unable to attend, we will be adding the information from the sessions to this page. You can also get in touch by email: a31ringwood@highwaysengland.co.uk, or if you’d to speak to someone, call Highways England on 0300 123 5000 and they will pass this on to the project team.

    We will be holding more sessions later in the year as we get closer to our work starting on the A31.

    Work begins to divert electricity cable

    The project will be completed in stages, and before we start work on the A31, we need to move some existing utilities. We will be rebuilding and widening both road bridges on the westbound carriageway, and work to move the electricity cable that runs through the existing bridges started on 31 March.

    The cable will be diverted to run along West Street, through a section of Market Place and connect into the network in the car park of St Peter and St Paul’s church. To minimise disruption, this work has been timed to be completed at the same time as Hampshire County Council’s work in the street.  

    We’re due to complete this diversion by the end of July 2021.

  • 16 March 2021

    Like to know more about our work on the A31?

    We’re hosting some virtual ‘meet the team’ events, in line with the current restrictions, where you can hear more about our improvements and the work we need to do before we start on the A31, from the comfort of your own home or workplace. There will also be the opportunity to ask the team any questions you may have.

    The sessions will be held on Microsoft Teams and we’re limiting the numbers to make sure everyone can ask any questions they may have. Places will be issued on a first come, first served basis. We’ll add more dates and times if sessions get booked up, making sure everyone can take part.

    Please email a31ringwood@highwaysengland.co.uk stating which session you would like to attend. We’ll then confirm your booking and send you more information about how to join.

    A31 meet the team sessions:

    Monday 29 March: 10:00am – 11.30am or 2:30pm – 4pm

    Tuesday 30 March: 10:00am – 11:30am or 4pm – 5:30pm

    If you’d be interested in attending a session later in the day, let us know and we’ll set one up. We’ll also be providing the opportunity to have call with one of the team for anyone unable to attend the virtual sessions.

    West Street progress

    The junction of West Street with the A31 was closed on 1 March and the contractors are currently building a permanent barrier.

    Please visit Hampshire County Council’s website for more information about the other activities being carried out in West Street.

    Surveys and ground investigations update

    We started our overnight surveys on Monday 8 March to gather more information about the gas main running along the A31. These are progressing well, and we’d like to thank everyone for their patience.

    We’ve completed our work in the central reservation and our team has moved to the A31 westbound slip road. As a reminder, the slip road will be closed, and a signed diversion will be in place between 8pm and 6am, Monday to Friday. The slip road will be open as usual during the day. No work will be carried out on Saturday and Sunday evening.

    These investigations will be completed by Friday 26 March.

    Utility diversions

    Towards the end of March, an electricity cable will be moved from alongside the A31. The new route will run along West Street, through a section of Market Place and connect into the network in the car park of St Peter and St Paul’s church. We’re due to complete this diversion by the end of July 2021.

    Keeping up-to-date

    We’re sending out a regular newsletter to keep everyone up-to-date with our work to improve the A31 Ringwood.

    If you would like to be added to our distribution list, please email a31ringwood@highwaysengland.co.uk asking to be added. You can ask to be removed at any time.

    Or if you’d to speak to someone from the project team, call Highways England on 0300 123 5000

  • 04 March 2021

    Surveys and ground investigations

    This month our contractors will be carrying out ground investigations and surveys along the A31 at Ringwood. We're looking to find out more about the gas main that runs close to the A31 to help us plan our upgrade works.

    We'll start by digging some holes within the central reservation. This will be done using a small digger to keep noise to a minimum, and there will be some temporary lighting around our working area. To keep everyone safe, we will be closing the two lanes either side of the central reservation on the A31 while we complete these investigations.

    We'll then move to the westbound A31 entry slip road to carry out some further ground investigations, and the slip road will be fully closed to protect those working in the road – please follow signed diversion routes. 

    These works will start on Monday 8 March, with both sites finished by Friday 26 March. To reduce the impact on traffic, we will be working overnight with closures in place between 8pm and 6am; the roads will be open as normal during the day. We won't be working on Saturday and Sunday nights.

    West Street improvements

    Hampshire County Council started work in West Street to improve access for pedestrians and cyclists in February and access to the A31 from West Street closed at the start of March.

    To create the new lane, we need to move an electricity cable from the bridges crossing the river, to West Street. This will be completed while Hampshire County Council are also working in the street to keep disruption to a minimum.

    Please visit Hampshire County Council’s website for more information about the other activities being carried out in West Street.

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

    We’ll also be setting up some temporary site offices in the car park of the Fish Inn in early March, these will provide facilities for staff working on the scheme.

  • 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

Overview

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.

Utility diversions

Before we start work on the A31, we need to move some existing utilities.

As we will be rebuilding and widening both road bridges on the westbound carriageway, work to move the electricity cable that runs through the existing bridges started on 31 March 2021. The cable will be diverted to run along West Street, through a section of Market Place and connect into the network in the car park of St Peter and St Paul’s church. To minimise disruption, this work has been timed to be completed at the same time as Hampshire County Council’s work in West Street.  

Bournemouth Water started work to divert a water main away from the A31 in June 2021. The new pipe will run through Ringwood town centre, the field near Verwood and under the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream. Although there hasn’t been any issues with this section of pipe historically the new pipe will make the network more resilient. 

Our final utility diversion is a BT cable that is within the road bridges. The current proposal is that a temporary cable will be put under the A31 eastbound carriageway while we rebuild the bridges. To enable us to lay the temporary cable safely, we’ll need to temporarily close the A31 westbound. This will be done overnight to minimise impact on traffic. We’ll give you as much notice as possible of the closure to allow you to plan ahead. The permanent new cable will be installed once the new bridges are in place.

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 will start 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.

Crossover construction: eastbound and westbound carriageway
Mid-September 2021 and run till mid-December 2021

The construction of these crossovers will start in mid-September 2021 and run till mid-December 2021. We will complete this work in two phases.

Phase one: September 2021 to October 2021

To allow the contraflow to be put in place, 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.

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

The first will run from 20 September 2021, until October 2021. During this phase we will close two lanes on the eastbound carriageway and one on the westbound carriageway overnight, 8pm til 6am Monday to Friday.

Please note, dates on map are being updated.

Crossover construction work phase one, overnight closures on eastbound and westbound carriageway

Click image to view larger 

Phase two: Late October 2021 to early December 2021

The second phase will run from late October 2021 to early December 2021. During this time, we will need to close two lanes eastbound and the width of the lane closest to the central reservation on the westbound carriageway will be reduced. The Verwood eastbound entry slip will also be closed for safety reasons.

Crossover construction work, phase two. Verwood entry slip closures and eastbound lane closures

Click image to view larger 

Drainage and signage works: eastbound carriageway
October 2021 to November 2021

From early October through to early November, we will be installing new signs, upgrading the drainage and carrying out barrier work on the eastbound carriageway.

To allow us to complete this work safely, there will be lane closures on the eastbound carriageway of the A31 and we will be closing the access to the A31 from the Verwood eastbound slip road, 24-hours a day.

Drainage and signage work, Verwood slip road closure and eastbound lane closures

Click image to view larger 

Traffic wanting to join the eastbound carriageway from the Verwood junction will need to do so via the westbound carriageway and Ashley Heath roundabout.

As the Verwood eastbound entry slip joins where we are moving vehicles on the A31 into the contraflow, to keep everyone safe, the slip road will stay closed until we finish construction in November 2022.  

Verwood slip road closure diversion

Click image to view larger 

Gantry removal: westbound and eastbound carriageway
Mid-November 2021

For everyone’s safety, while we lift out the gantry close to the eastbound Ringwood exit slip, a full closure of the eastbound and westbound carriageway is needed. This closure will be overnight, 8pm til 6am, in mid-November for up to three nights. A diversion will be in place via A337, A35, A3060 and A338.

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.

Before the main construction work starts, we will be carrying 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.

Please note, dates on map are being updated.

Ringwood roundabout westbound slip road closure and diversion route

Click image to view larger 

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. 

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

Documents

Traffic information

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

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