SEVEN weeks of road closures begin today around the Canford Bottom roundabout.

Ham Lane and Wimborne Road West, on the Ferndown side, closed at midnight as the junction’s £5.7million works entered a new phase.

All four local roads will be shut down from Friday February 17, to Thursday March 8, when Wimborne Road West, into Wimborne, and Canford Bottom follow suit.

Ham Lane and Wimborne Road West to Ferndown will then re-open, leaving Wimborne Road West, to Wimborne, off limits until March 23.

County, District and Parish Councillor Janet Dover, of Colehill, says the impact on residents will be horrendous.

“There is huge concern,” Cllr Dover said.

“I had a lady that was almost in tears to me because she’s got to get to work in Ferndown and is worried to death about being late and losing her job.

“It will take an hour to do something that normally only takes 10 minutes.”

Traders in the area are afraid their custom will suffer as a result of the works, which project managers the Highways Agency have cut from an original 12 weeks.

It’s all aimed at creating a signalised hamburger junction by June. “The level of anxiety among small businesses has been huge right from the start,” Cllr Dover added. “It has never got any less.

“Garage owners and others come to regular consultation meetings with the Agency, and they are so worried about it still.”

Even before the full closures, traffic has been clogging up along the A31.

“When they shut Ham Lane and other turnings people are going to have to do a detour, meaning extra petrol money,” she said.

“Children need to get to school, people need to get to work. It’s horrendous,” she added..

“Residents are very, very cross that they perceive the work is all to do with the Olympics, not getting traffic management for local people.”

The Highways Authority agreeing to fund a shuttle bus between Wimborne and Colehill for passengers on the Wilts & Dorset was a valuable concession that came through at the last minute, she added.

Route 13 is changing and some bus stops between Stapehill and Canford Bottom will not be serviced.

Laying on the four-hourly shuttle service is estimated to cost £30,000.

The A31 will be closed between the Ameysford and Merley roundabouts from 8.30pm – 6am tonight, as last night, and 11pm – 6am on Friday for carriageway work.

Clearly signed diversions will be in place and further overnight A31 closures will be publicised in advance.

Difficult for businesses

Bill Eldret, who owns Cutting Edge hairdressers on Wimborne Road West, said there’s worry about what the effects will be.

The Furzehill resident, 57, said: “For our clients the inconvenience of the diversions will be just awful. And the whole project is a waste of time. It Driver Brian Sword, 52, from Wimborne, uses Canford Bottom twice a day.

“It will be difficult for the businesses, especially shops,” he said.

“From experience driving to different areas, I know that when roads are closed the smaller shops do struggle.

“I think this will affect everybody.”