MOTORISTS are being warned to brace themselves for traffic misery as part of a busy Hampshire motorway will close this weekend.

The M27 will close between junction 3 and 4 from 10pm on January 31 to 5am on February 3.

The closure is the final phase of a £19m scheme to replace the Romsey Road bridge.

Highway bosses have now said that “severe congestion” is expected.

Residents have been urged to plan their journeys, leave plenty of extra time and consider using alternative modes of transport where possible.

It comes as some motorists will face a 55-mile diversion route while others will be diverted through North Baddesley and Chilworth.

Bournemouth Echo:

Highways England, which is responsible for the scheme, said all vehicles heading west on the M27 from Portsmouth to Bournemouth will be diverted off at junction 4, up the M3 and the A34, the A303 past Andover, down the A345 into Salisbury and onto the A36 towards the M27 at J2 (Ower).

Meanwhile, eastbound diversions entail a number of different routes, depending on direction and the type of vehicle. Traffic of any type on the M27 from the A31 and heading towards M27 east will be diverted off at junction 3 up the M271 and A3057 northbound for then joining the A27 eastbound, heading through North Baddesley and Chilworth Roundabout. HGVs on the M27 from the A31 heading for M3/London will also be diverted through North Baddesley to Chilworth Roundabout.

Bournemouth Echo:

Romsey town centre manager, Mark Edgerley, said: “I have said to residents it is unfortunate as it will cause chaos, but it is essential work that needs to be done to finish the bridge, so it is unavoidable.”

Highways England said this will be the last closure as the scheme is expected to be completed next month.

As previously reported, the motorway was closed in September 2018 when Southampton and the surrounding areas were brought to a standstill with motorists facing the same 55-mile diversion route.

Another closure was in place in June 2019 when the operation was completed 36 hours ahead of schedule. Civic chiefs in Southampton have also urged residents to plan their journeys in advance and allow extra time.

As previously reported, the first closure enabled contractors to start demolishing the old bridge, which was built in the 1970s and was nearing the end of its life.

The M27 was closed again in June while the bridge's pre-built replacement was moved into position.

This weekend's closure will allow for the demolition of the eastern half of Romsey Road bridge.