Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council, explained: “We’ve had to start this preparatory work now, at the request of the Hampshire Local Resilience Forum (LRF), to ensure that in the event of a no deal Brexit, Hampshire’s residents can continue to use the county’s road network without significant delays.”
The work will provide the extra space that may be needed for stacking lorries waiting to use the Port of Portsmouth if arrangements for freight traffic leaving and entering the EU is not finalised by the time the UK formally leaves the EU on 29th March.
Councillor Humby continued: “I do appreciate local residents have had very little notice of these works, for which we apologise. Unfortunately, due to the tight timescales and the level of uncertainty around what may happen nationally, we must make sure that Hampshire is prepared. This decision wasn’t taken lightly. Careful consideration was given by the LRF agencies on all options across Hampshire to provide necessary stacking space for lorries waiting to use the Port of Portsmouth. The A31 was assessed as being the only safe and practical option for diverting lorries from motorway networks to avoid the potential for serious and widescale gridlock on Hampshire roads, in the event of a no deal Brexit which we know the Government is seeking to avoid.
“It’s important to point out that this basic preparatory work on the A31 is one half of a two-part contingency plan, complementing the other part which is at Tipner in Portsmouth. Also, I would stress that this work will not go to waste as it will help us maintain this stretch of road more effectively in the future.
“We are doing what we can now to make sure Hampshire residents can carry on with their day to day business, whatever happens leading up to, and directly after, 29th March.
“We are now working hard to make sure that the local community is kept up to date and doing all we can to minimise any disruption during the preparatory works. In the meantime, we continue to press the Government for appropriate funding support for our contingency arrangements.”
The A31 remains open during the works. There is currently a diversion in place from Alresford via the Bishops Sutton roundabout to complete a new central reserve crossover at the Ladycroft roundabout until 15 March. Work at the other end, at the Percy Hobbs roundabout is scheduled for completion on by 22 March, weather permitting.
The Hampshire Local Resilience Forum is made up of public sector partners including local authorities, Police and Fire.