A COUNCIL highway operations executive has urged drivers to “avoid” driving on the A31 and that “every effort” will go into reducing disruption.

As National Highways’ major scheme to widen the A31 at Ringwood progresses, a county councillor has said work will continue with various organisations to minimise congestion in the area.

Councillor Russell Oppenheimer, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for highway operations, said: “The improvement works being carried out on the A31 by National Highways will have a significant impact on local roads for the next year.

“I would strongly recommend that drivers avoid the area if possible but, when drivers do plan to use the local highway network in this area, they should plan their journey in advance, follow the signed diversion route and allow plenty of extra time.

“Our Highways Team has worked closely with National Highways to do what they can to help to mitigate and reduce congestion on local roads.

Bournemouth Echo: Councillor Russell OppenheimerCouncillor Russell Oppenheimer

“We will of course continue to work with National Highways, and also Ringwood Town Council and New Forest District Council, to ensure every effort is made to minimise traffic disruption across the local highway network.”

As part of the scheme, South West Water have to divert their water main which means they are having to undertake work on the B3347.

Hampshire County Council added that every effort is being taken to get these works completed “before the main Christmas shopping period starts in early December”.

The A31 is the responsibility of, and is managed by, National Highways. However, the local road networks either side of the Hampshire/Dorset border are managed by Hampshire County Council and Dorset Council respectively.

The A31 scheme, due for completion in November 2022, will add a third lane in the westbound direction to reduce delays at peak times. The bridges over the River Avon and Bickerley Millstream will also be replaced as part of this project.