COMMUTERS rejoice – you’re (almost) there.

After almost nine months of work, both lanes of the A338 Spur Road – both north and southbound – will be fully open during the busy rush-hour periods from now on.

However, those travelling a little later in the day may still face delays as some road closures may take place between the hours of 9am and 4pm.

The work is due to be completed in June.

Council officials say both lanes southbound will be open during this bank holiday weekend.

Overnight closures this week have seen the whole of the A338 shut between Cooper Dean and Ashley Heath while the road has been surfaced.

But at 6am yesterday morning, there were two lanes southbound from the Blackwater junction to the Cooper Dean roundabout.

“The Cooper Dean off slip will be in operation.

“However, there are still works in the area which prevent us from opening the entire length of the widened slip,” the council said.

The news that the work is getting to the beginning of the end will come as a huge relief to those who use the busy dual carriageway every day.

Motorists have faced long delays on both the Spur Road itself and on nearby routes, including Matchams and the Avon Causeway.

Here’s a run-through of what’s actually happened in the past nine months...

  • During ‘phase one’, southbound lane two closed and two lanes were narrowed northbound to allow for work to the central reservation. During the course of this phase, a 40 mile per hour speed limit was in place. In addition, the two bridges carrying the road over the River Stour were joined together.
  • Phase two began in mid-November. Engineers worked on the slip road, extending it under the bridge, and widened the central reservation. A lane closure was extended back up to the bridge at the Avon Causeway. Drivers had to pick their lane early, with one of the lanes heading towards Blackwater and another into Bournemouth.
  • Between February 23 and March 10, a series of overnight lane closures were put in place to allow engineers to carry out surfacing works and switch the traffic management layout over.
  • A new contraflow was established on March 3 prioritising one lane southbound and two lanes northbound. Widening work then began on the northbound carriageway, along with bridge maintenance. This arrangement will be familiar to drivers who frequently use the route, and it’s in place until the work finishes.
  • There will be further night closures next month. The dates of the closures aren’t yet known.

Before we all celebrate too much, however, we’ll warn you that it’s not all over just yet – nine more months of work on a new sliproad to the Spur Road will start as soon as the current project is finished. Construction starts on the Blackwater West sliproad next month.

Gary Powell, the senior responsible officer for the A338 improvements, said: “We are pleased to see the works progressing on time and on schedule.”