PLANNERS have reversed a decision to close a busy A31 slip road this month after listening to feedback from councillors, retailers and residents.

National Highways has announced that its planned closure of the westbound slip road from the Ringwood roundabout will be postponed until January 2022 after a review.

The slip road closure was due to start today (Monday November 15).

Drivers are also advised that the contraflow will now be in place from January 24, 2022.

National Highways said: “These changes are being made following stakeholder feedback and a review by National Highways to its approach to the delivery of the A31 Ringwood improvements scheme.

“After listening to concerns raised by Ringwood Town Council, local retailers and residents about the potential impact the westbound entry slip road closure may have on the town during construction work, National Highways has postponed its planned closure of the slip road.”

Drivers have also been told the slip road used by traffic joining the A31 eastbound at Verwood that was closed at the end of October will now remain in place until the project is complete in November 2022.

National Highways said this is due to safety concerns, as the slip road joins the road where vehicles are moving on the A31 into the contraflow.

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

However, following the announced slip road closure postponement, Cllr Day said this is a “positive” development.

He said: “It’s very good news because we were facing three weeks of works at once. We would have had water main works coinciding with the slip road closure and that would have been chaos.

“Assuming the water work finishes on time, we won’t have that double whammy. It’s still a whammy of sorts but it’s not as bad as could have been.

“While we wish they’d announced this sooner, I suppose it’s better late than never.

“We’ve spoken to Hampshire County Council who are planning to put in measures in backroads to control the traffic avoiding the works. For example we’re liaising with transport companies and local businesses with regard to HGV’s so we don’t end up with those driving through tight residential roads.

“Everybody appreciates that this is all going to cause major delays, but at least the powers that be are listening to us.”

A signed diversion will be in place during the closure. Traffic wishing to join the eastbound A31 should use the westbound A31 and the Ashley Heath roundabout to access the eastbound carriageway.

Drivers are also advised the A31 will also be closed in both directions between the Verwood to Ringwood junctions overnight (8pm to 6am) from Sunday November 21 to Tuesday 23, 2021, to allow the eastbound gantry to be removed safely.

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