ROAD users look set for more than a year of traffic “chaos” as the dates for works on the A31 are confirmed.

As reported, National Highways (formerly Highways England) plans to introduce a third lane and widen the A31 in Ringwood later this year.

The aim of the £25million scheme is to “improve safety, reduce congestion, improve journey time reliability and to improve facilities for walkers, cyclists and horse riders in the local area and link with routes in and around the area”.

Following a recent stakeholder meeting with National Highways as well as Ringwood and Dorset councillors, it was revealed that a two-lane contraflow system will be in operation from January 4 to November 30, 2022.

The contraflow will be maintained in both east and westbound directions while a third lane is added to each side. Some additional work is also required on the eastbound carriageway to resolve drainage issues, removal of a gantry and for road marking corrections.

This will be preceded by the digging up of Mansfield Road next week and a resulting closure of its westbound slip road from Ringwood in November.

National Highway’s A31 programme leader Alan Feist said: “Connecting people and communities is at the heart of what we do and we have been working hard on the traffic management and diversion plans for our improvements on the A31 at Ringwood.

“Our plans will minimise impacts on road users while we demolish and replace the two westbound bridges and widen the road to three lanes. I can confirm that we will be able to maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction whilst we undertake the work from January to November 2022, keeping disruption to a minimum.

Bournemouth Echo: The A31 at Ringwood is set to undergo a major redevelopmentThe A31 at Ringwood is set to undergo a major redevelopment

“We are looking forward to sharing our detailed plans during a number of public information events later this month. I encourage anyone interested in the scheme to come along, or connect electronically, to find out more about the work and what we are doing as we prepare to get started.”

Ringwood Town Council’s chair of planning and A31 development forum representative Cllr Philip Day told the Daily Echo that he had “serious concerns” over the plans.

He said: “We are very concerned by the congestion all these works look likely to cause and the impact it will have on local businesses. This isn’t just something that will impact those in Ringwood, it will affect travel to Bournemouth, Christchurch as well as those living in Fordingbridge and travelling from Southampton way.

“We have expressed our concerns on numerous occasions as this project is in a very difficult location in terms of traffic management. It’s extremely difficult to give advice as we don’t know how people will react.

He added: “Whether the likely chaos justifies the end result remains to be seen, but this will have a significant impact for at least an entire year.”

Cllr Day added that traffic coming westbound from the M27 to the Ashley Heath Roundabout would see journey times increase by approximately 31 minutes on account of the contraflow system.

There are several A31 public information events taking place online and in-person. These will be held on:

  • Tuesday, September 21 from 2.00pm-3.30pm on Microsoft Teams
  • Thursday, September 23 from 1.00pm-5pm at Ringwood Town Council by appointment only
  • Monday, September 27 from 1-5pm at Verwood Hub by appointment only
  • Tuesday, September 28 from 2-3.30pm on Microsoft Teams
  • Thursday, September 30 from 11am-12.30pm on Microsoft Teams

Anyone interested can book a place by emailing:

The A31 at Ringwood was identified as an area needing investment and forms part of the government’s £15.2bn Road Investment Strategy to be delivered between 2020-2025.

In August, works to close access to an A31 slip road from West Street next to the Fish Inn pub were completed as part of the £25m scheme.