A31 work pattern on how road construction is progressing

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WITH the multimillion-pound A31 refit about three months after completion, the man at the helm has answered some burning questions.

When completed, the £30million A31 scheme will see a third lane added to the westbound carriageway, providing additional capacity and safer access points from Ringwood.

The last of the 45-metre girders of the new westbound bridge was installed on Wednesday evening and attention will now turn to building the new bridge and finishing the third lane.

National Highways A31 project manager Daniel Kittredge told the Echo that work was “on track” to be completed by the end of November and answered questions from residents.

New bridge girders in place on the A31 at Ringwood. Picture: Paddy Butler

Some residents criticized the project for its 11-month duration, stating things like “the Americans would have finished this in less than a week”. However, Daniel pointed out several parameters that people may not be aware of, requiring a longer project lead time.

He said: “There are a number of things that can be said in response to this, but first of all, these are incredibly complex structures that we are replacing. We also have a number of environmental constraints that we must adhere to as the River Avon is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

“Additionally, there are constraints imposed on us by the planning authority on how we can work. For example, many people say about 24 hours of work. We work so close to the residents, so imagine if you were one of the neighbors, would you want this type of construction activity going on 24/7? The answer is no, so we must be attentive to them and respect the environmental constraints imposed on us.

Daily Echo: Girder installation work for the A31 Bridge at Ringwood in August 2022. Photo: Paddy ButlerGirder installation work for the A31 Bridge at Ringwood in August 2022. Photo: Paddy Butler

“I think what people forget is that the people doing this project are just that, people, not robots.

“Lately we have had a lot of questions about why we are not carrying out this work in the winter due to the high levels of tourism in the summer. The answer to this is again environmental constraints.

“For example, the Avon River is home to Atlantic salmon and they use it as a migration route to their spawning grounds. It is a species protected by European legislation, so we must respect these laws. We completely understand why people ask these questions, but we are constrained by legislation, like everyone else.

National road crews also worked on public holidays, including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, to keep to schedule. Additionally, the workforce had to contend with live traffic from the adjacent eastbound roadway.

Daily Echo: A31 Bridge Replacement Works at Ringwood.  Photo: Derek MaidmentA31 Bridge Replacement Works at Ringwood. Photo: Derek Maidment

Daniel said: “What is evident with this project is that we are working in a real environment. We use a process called enhanced mobile pavement closures for very short periods of the day, which allows us to complete construction activities. We find things get back to normal within 20 minutes, so if you compare that to a full shutdown, a minor outage during off-peak hours is extremely preferable. »

Asked about the heavy traffic caused by the works, Daniel stressed it was a ‘ripple effect’ of any major road project – but said most long delays are caused by unrelated incidents to the works.

He said: “What we find is that most problems are usually caused by traffic collisions that are beyond our control. But we have 24/7 recovery for any incident in and around the project.

Daily Echo: A31 works in Ringwood.  Picture: Paddy ButlerA31 works in Ringwood. Picture: Paddy Butler

“We’re finding that collisions and other things that stop the general flow of traffic have bigger impacts than the road works themselves.”

Regardless of feelings about the project, residents seem to generally agree that the end result will make it easier to get around in and out of Ringwood. For example, the old slip roads at B3347 Mansfield Road and West Street on the westbound A31 have long been considered unsafe.

Daniel concluded: “The overriding benefit of the project is the reliability of travel time. This journey from Southampton to Ashley Heath roundabout and Bournemouth, which is a notorious point of delay, will improve considerably.

“The team on site are working exceptionally hard to meet our November deadline. They are a very committed, capable and motivated team of people and when we are done I really hope you will see the benefits of the work that has been done. .

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