A three-month project to replace the bridge in Romsey which carries the A27 (Southampton Road) over the railway to enable larger freight containers to be transported by rail is scheduled to start on Saturday 31 March 2012.
The work, which will require the road to be closed, was originally scheduled to start in December 2011, but after concerns were raised by the council, MPs and businesses about the impact this would have on the busy Christmas trading period, Network Rail agreed to defer the work until the Spring.
Richard O’Brien, Network Rail’s route managing director for Wessex, said: “Ashfield bridge in Romsey is one a number of structures we’re upgrading to provide an alternative route for freight containers out of Southampton docks for those occasions when we carry out improvement works to the main line. With thousands of businesses around the country relying on the railway to receive deliveries of food, clothing, electronics and other consumer products to stock their shelves, it is vital we provide the infrastructure to allow the quick, reliable, green and cost efficient movement of these goods.
“There is never a good time to carry out such a significant piece of work on a bridge which carries one of the main roads between Romsey and Southampton. We have worked with the councils, police, emergency services and community representatives to put in place a plan which will keep disruption to a minimum and thank people in advance for their patience while we carry out this work which will ultimately benefit the local economy.”
Councillor Mel Kendal, executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, said; “Any road closure will, unfortunately, cause a certain amount of disruption, but I would like to reassure Romsey’s residents that we’ve been working closely with Network Rail, Test Valley Borough Council, Southampton City Council and the Highways Agency to find the most suitable diversion route while Network Rail carry out their works to Ashfield Bridge to accommodate larger freight vehicles. We have also managed to arrange for other works being carried out by Test Valley Borough Council and the Broadlands Estate to take place at the same time, saving a number of weeks’ disruption which would have been the case had these been done separately.”
Network Rail has worked with Hampshire County Council to devise a diversionary route. Temporary road signs will be installed from 22 February to provide as much notice of the work as possible for members of the public. Diversion routes will be put in place using the M27 between junctions 2 and 3, and for vehicles not permitted to use the motorway, the diversion will be on the A3090 from Romsey to Ower, the A36 to Totton and the A3057 back to Ashfield. For full details about the diversionary route, please visit http://www3.hants.gov.uk/roads/hampshire-roadworks/network-rail-roadworks.htm .
Test Valley Borough Council is carrying out a separate scheme at the Lee Lane junction to provide a central pedestrian refuge and widen footpaths which will improve the safety of pedestrians crossing the A27. The Broadlands Estate is also undertaking essential maintenance works to its boundary wall. These projects would have required separate road closures of the A27 and by taking advantage of the closure for the bridge replacement will minimise disruption for motorists.
The bridge replacement at Romsey is part of a project to upgrade the route from Southampton to Basingstoke via Romsey and Andover, in addition to the Eastleigh to Romsey line, to transport larger, 9’6” high-cube freight containers by train more efficiently. The works require 17 bridges to be knocked down and rebuilt; the track to be altered at 11 locations and station canopies at Andover, Romsey and Whitchurch to be adjusted. Two redundant bridges will be demolished without being replaced and three further bridges will be modified without having to rebuild them.