POOLE motorists are being told to prepare as the town’s “largest and most disruptive” road scheme starts on Monday.

As major work continues on the A338 Spur Road in Bournemouth, a nine-month project will get under way at the Hunger Hill junction.

As previously reported, the £11.7m scheme will see the layout of the junction completely redesigned and traffic flow on West Quay Road and West Street changed. A number of new crossings will be installed for pedestrians and cyclists, and some larger open spaces will be created.

The aim of the project, which has been funded through Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), is to support future development in the Townside area where 5,000 new homes, mainly flats, will be built and 1,000 new jobs created.

Speaking to the Daily Echo at a media briefing on the scheme yesterday, Poole council’s head of growth and infrastructure, Julian McLaughlin, said the contractors, Mildren Construction, had been told to minimise delays where possible.

During peak hours (7.30-9am and 4.30-6pm) there will be single lane reductions only, with more of the road restricted outside those times. There will be no complete road closures during the works, and some night work will be carried out.

Initially work will start by Asda and West Quay Road with the removal of the central reserve and traffic islands.

“We’re aware there’s a significant amount of traffic using this junction, and we’re minimising the impact of the works to reduce the amount of queueing in those peak hours,” he said.

When asked to comment on concerns over the scheme clashing with the A338 works, he said: “There will be very few people going through the A338 delays and these delays.

“Dorset LEP have funded 90 per cent of these schemes and they have a timescale to meet from government to finish all the work by 2021.”

He added: “It’s typical for the first week or two that people will sit in a queue and won’t divert. Our key message is plan ahead and leave a bit earlier for your journey.”

From December 10-24, the work will be carried out under peak hour conditions only, and there will be no work carried out from December 24 until January 7.

Hunger Hill will switch over to its new layout after the Christmas period, although a date for this has not yet been set.

Mr McLaughlin said: “The new junction is not designed to massively increase the amount of cars that can go through, rather it will create a reasonably slow, urban environment where cars are going through but they have a reliable journey time.

“What the scheme provides is a significant improvement, not just of the road network itself, but the cycle network which is crucial. It will give people a better choice so they can use more sustainable modes of transport. A major cycle lane is well used on Holes Bay but then there’s a gap until the Twin Sails bridge. The Hunger Hill scheme completes that cycle lane.”

Cllr Ian Potter, cabinet member for transportation, said Hunger Hill was the “largest and probably the most disruptive” of six schemes to improve Poole town centre and Port of Poole access, including new junctions at Gravel Hill, Hatchpond Lane and Sterte Avenue West, as well as the Poole Bridge refurbishment.

Wider projects in the Townside area will continue until March 2020 and will involve the completion of the links for pedestrians, cyclists and other road users from Hunger Hill to Poole Bridge. Improvements to public spaces will also take place during this time.

Members of the public can meet the Mildren Construction team to discuss the Hunger Hill works at an event today between 3pm and 7pm at the RNLI College.