TWO massive transport projects in Poole costing more than £8million are set to cause months of disruption in a bid to improve road links in the town.

Poole Bridge is due to be closed from September 2016 for nine months while the approach spans are rebuilt and six months of work at busy Gravel Hill, the A349, from July next year will see a complete closure for up to two months and partial closure for four months.

"Unfortunately there is no hiding from it. There's going to be disruption," said John Rice, engineering manager, Borough of Poole. "We will do everything we can to minimise the disruption to the town, people, businesses and residents."

The two schemes in excess of £4m each are part of the £79m funding awarded to Dorset LEP for the Dorset Growth Deal, which also includes the current re-building of the A338 Bournemouth Spur Road. This is due to be completed next May, before work begins on Gravel Hill.

"There is never a perfect time to do any works of this nature," said Rob Dunford, head of programmes for Dorset LEP.

"By improving the environment and roads in the area we are encouraging employers to relocate or expand their businesses."

Overall this funding aims to improve access to the Port of Poole and unlock growth at Bournemouth Airport and could mean creating 26,000 jobs and up to 3,000 new homes by 2021 and up to £650m private sector investment.

However the "short term pain" at Gravel Hill, which is used by 27,000 vehicles a day, will take six months with full and partial closures of the main route north. It will involve major earthworks to stabilise crumbling banks and improvements to junctions at Queen Anne Drive, Dunyeats Road, Darby's Corner and Hatch Pond.

Mr Rice said they could not carry out the earthworks in winter and with this timing aimed to avoid school exams. "We accept people are here on holiday but am and pm peak journeys are a little bit lower during the school holidays," he said.

In February work is due to start on the Hatch Pond signals which will take three months and include restrictions on side roads. Work to improve access in the town centre will take place at a later date.

Poole Bridge will be closed for nine months to vehicles and pedestrians while the entire approach spans, both sides of the 88-year-old lifting bridge are demolished and rebuilt, giving a design life of 120 years. The bridge spans will be kept upright and boats will be able to pass through.

The 16 piles will be replaced with eight and wider roads and pavements built. The bridge will remain at its current width however the approach roads will be widened, giving lorries the chance to pass on the approach roads and the joint pedestrian and cycle footways made 2.5m deep.

There will be new barriers, lights and a vehicle restraint system with pipes similar to the Twin Sails Bridge and it will be more pedestrian friendly. Although the closure will continue through Maritime Week in May 2017 when thousands of people are expected to converge on the quay area, this is not thought to be a problem.

"Hopefully the towers in particular, which have local listing, will look far more like they did when they were built in 1927," he said.

The council has no plans to provide a pedestrian ferry between the Hamworthy and Poole quays as this would cost more than £¼m over the period. However if a third party wished to explore options the council would work with them, he said.

"It is a big piece of work. We do understand it is going to be difficult for some people," said Mr Rice, adding that consultation on the projects would be taking place soon.