THE A338 roadworks are taking a Christmas break.

From Saturday morning the blocked-off lane at the Blackwater junction will be removed, allowing traffic to flow freely during the festive season.

The restriction’s temporary removal is happening two days earlier than scheduled because work on improving the run-on lane is progressing well.

However, although the roadworks will be on holiday, its workers are not.

They will work up until December 21, installing drainage pipes and ditch digging, preparing for the next phase of the work which will involve building a reinforced earth bank.

Ian Price, from contractors’ Hanson, said work to reinstate the southbound safety lane will resume overnight on January 5. Full works and a lane restriction extending to Cooper Dean roundabout – to allow for improvements to the off-slip there – would be in place for Monday January 7.

Plans for the northbound section, which are due to start in March, will be different as there will still be two lanes taking traffic away from town.

Bournemouth’s head of highways and transportation, Gary Powell, said: “We know from modelling we’ve done previously that if we restrict the northbound carriageway it immediately restricts the traffic flow in Bournemouth because there isn’t as much space for traffic to queue as there is on the southbound carriageway.”

One of the northbound lanes will be a contraflow onto the south side but traffic congestion there will be eased by the new and longer run-on lane from Blackwater.

The team running the works have also answered some of the many questions from Echo readers.

Ian Price said teams were working round the clock and at weekends but because the whole project was “fiddly” and had to be done in specific order, some of the work involving steel reinforcement could only be done in daylight for safety reasons.

Because of the site’s geography – it borders a river and has a sharp potential fall away down a bank - and because of safety reasons, sometimes workers only had the space of a lorry-width to work in.

This has restricted how much could be done, it was said.

The works could not be completed as part of the road-surfacing which took place a few years ago partly for technical reasons but also, said Mr Price, because it would have lead to severe back-up onto the A31.

Regular meetings with the emergency services show that ambulances were getting through and there was also the facility for them to use the restricted lane in an emergency.

Mr Price said the roadworks could be completed “much more quickly” if they had been allowed to close the entire dual carriageway. However: “The impact on the local area from that really would be totally unacceptable,” he said.