THE major authorities behind the A31 roadworks at Ringwood have released a comprehensive plan to mitigate traffic disruption.

National Highways’ scheme to improve traffic flow on the A31 by widening to three lanes at Ringwood, replacing bridges, signage and other measures has caused massive disruption.

However, a new report outlines how the highways authority and Hampshire County Council will work together to minimise the traffic impact in the area.

The report outlines six major objectives to aid the works and traffic flow.

These are:

  1. Keep the A31 and diversion route as free running as possible
  2. Keep strategic routes and junctions as congestion free as possible
  3. Promote and facilitate the use of the official signed diversion route for traffic wanting to head west on the A31
  4. Protect highly unsuitable routes and routes through residential areas from additional traffic
  5. Keep suitable alternative routes free for traffic to use
  6. Protect the existing highway from damage because of additional traffic use


They said to achieve these objectives “a number of general and specific measures will be implemented”.

These are as follows:

General mitigation measures

  • Heavy restrictions on planned works in the area throughout the roadworks, but even tighter restrictions implemented over the Christmas and summer holiday periods
  • Close liaison with emergency services to ensure they are fully briefed and consulted
  • Close liaison with key stakeholders
  • Reduce HGV traffic on the A31 by liaising with freight operators to promote the use of alternative routes for strategic traffic movements
  • Undertake preventative maintenance measures on routes that are at risk of greater deterioration from significant additional traffic loading

Specific measures to keep key junctions clear

Key junctions at risk of being blocked by queues have been identified and measures such as ‘Keep Clear’ markings will be deployed. Such markings will be placed at the entrance to the ambulance station at the Southampton Road/Chaffey Close junction.

Traffic on the signed diversion route will not have priority over traffic heading south past the Scout hut, over the A31 bridge, in Southampton Road. In the event of significant and persistent congestion for traffic coming from the A31 offslip towards Southampton Road, National Highways has agreed to deploy portable traffic signals between 7.00am and 7.00pm to redress the priority.

Specific measures regarding suitable and unsuitable alternative routes

Some alternative routes will have capacity for additional traffic, while some will be wholly unsuitable. Suitable routes will not be subject to restrictions as they are a “vital pressure valve” for residents and may have additional measures deployed to facilitate traffic flow such as removing on-street parking.

Unsuitable routes will be protected by dissuading traffic from using them, initially through the use of signs. If the routes become persistently used resulting in congestion or highway damage, such routes may be closed to through traffic using a temporary traffic order.

Though planners say this is a “last resort”.

In addition, to minimise unnecessary heavy traffic travelling strategically east/west, National Highways says it will liaise with freight transport operators and ports to promote the use of other strategic routes.

Routes through the forest will be monitored and further signs may be deployed to help reduce risks to livestock.

In summary

The report concludes by saying: “The project and roads in the area will be closely monitored and all organisations will work together in a coordinated approach.

“However, the geography and nature of the works means that even with mitigation measures, the construction phase of the scheme will be a very disruptive period for traffic, residents, and businesses in the area, which is regrettable but unavoidable.”

Reacting to the measures, Ringwood Town Council’s A31 forum representative Cllr Philip Day said: “I am pleased to see these proposals, but the Town Council will continue to monitor the impact of these works on local residents and businesses and will continue in our efforts to bring pressure to bear on the relevant authorities to address any specific problems that we identify.”