MOTORISTS are being warned to brace themselves for disruption as a multi-million pound jam-busting facelift finally gets under way on a Hampshire motorway today.
The works will begin this morning on the M27, having been originally scheduled to happen in June and then July but axed at the last minute.
It is the first of two major improvements to the motorway planned as part of the biggest programme of road works the UK has seen since the 1970s – costing £371m.
The £8m makeover to junction five, towards Eastleigh and Stoneham Way, will see workmen create additional lanes for motorists travelling both on and off the motorway as well as extra traffic lights put on the roundabout.
It is hoped it will reduce delays for the 100,000 drivers who use the road every day.
But commuters face eight months of reduced speed limits and narrow lanes during the day and overnight closures while the work is carried out.
It comes ahead of a similar £2.3m scheme to reduce bottlenecks at junction three of the M27, towards the M271 to Southampton city centre and Romsey, which will begin at the end of September, after the Southampton Boat Show.
The M27 exit slip road and a section of the southbound M271 carriageway will be widened to three lanes and there will be additional traffic lights on the roundabout.
Both projects are due to be completed by next spring.
Ed French, from the Highways Agency, said: “We have planned the work carefully to minimise disruption and will carry out as much of the work as possible overnight, when traffic flows are at their lowest. I advise anyone wishing to use either junction to plan their journeys and to allow extra time.”
The AA have welcomed the improvements.
Paul Watters, head of roads policy, said: “The places where motorways meet important local roads can often be a weak link with regular congestion constricting the junction which often affects the traffic flow on the motorway itself. These local congestion hotspots cost drivers and businesses time and money.
“Regular drivers who use junction five and junction three of the M27 know this only too well and many well ask themselves why relatively simple measures cannot be adopted to ease the blockage at peak times. So they and the AA are relieved that something is a last being done to ease the flow.”
Hampshire County Council’s transport boss Cllr Seán Woodward said the works will help boost economic growth with better access and better productivity as a result – tempting national and local firms to base themselves in the county.