Since launching the website we have received a lot of comments and questions about the scheme. We are now publicly responding to those as well as those that were raised in person at the drop-in event on 10 July.
Work Phases & Timings
Phase 1A of the roadworks begin on Tuesday 7 August with the associated traffic management measures being put in place on Monday 6 August.
This comprises a single lane closure, northbound on Selborne Road, which will remain in place until November. Single lane, two-way traffic will be maintained throughout this phase, except for potential, occasional night time closures for resurfacing.
Phase 1B will follow from November 2018 through until January 2019. During this period, it is our intention to re-route traffic via the new link road and Winchester Road, enabling construction of the highway between the two new roundabouts.
On completion of Phase 1B in late January 2019, Whitedown Lane (A339) will be closed either side of Butts Bridge. The route into and out of Alton via Selborne Road and Butts Road will be unaffected.
A diversion route for A339 traffic will be implemented while the closure is in place.
Local Diversion Route
The northbound diversion route begins at Butts Green and travels north up Butts Road, turns left onto Ackender Road, then left again onto Basingstoke Road before ending at the junction with the A339. It is proposed that the Ackender Road section be made one way (northbound only).
The southbound diversion route begins at the above A339 junction with Basingstoke Road, travels along the A339 before turning right onto Chawton Park Road. At a point west of the car park alongside the Jubilee Playing Fields, this becomes one way (southbound only) heading down Northfield Lane to the A31 roundabout due to the narrow and bending nature of Chawton Park Road, to prevent conflict and avoid confusion. Entry to Chawton Park Road from the A31 will be prohibited.
Studies and investigations were undertaken before a decision was made by Hampshire County Council, East Hampshire District Council and locally elected officials, about which roads to use in the diversion routes.
A diversion scheme around the Butts was developed and discussed with Hampshire County Council officers and was tabled at an Alton Town Council meeting last year. However, it is understood to have been rejected by locally elected representatives at that time resulting in the development of the scheme that has now been approved.
As the diversion route is purely temporary, there is no requirement for a wider public consultation to be undertaken. Local council officers have, however, been fully consulted and have provided necessary and valuable feedback and commentary assisting in the development of the plans as currently presented.
The routes as published, will not now be fundamentally altered. However, the construction team comprising Knights Brown as the contractor and Homes England, will be working alongside all parties to ensure that all safety and congestion concerns are carefully considered and addressed before the scheme is implemented.
The existing traffic regulation orders that prohibit motor vehicles from using roads such as Queens Road (except for access) will remain in force. There is currently no provision for the erection of additional signage of this nature.
HGV Route Communication & Enforcement
HGVs will be given forward notice of the A339 closure through Variable Message Signs (VMS). The VMS will be placed on the following routes, not less than four weeks in advance of the closure coming into effect and for the duration of the works period:
A339 southbound (near Basingstoke)
A339 northbound (near Ham Barn Roundabout)
A31 westbound (near Wrecclesham Road Roundabout)
A31 eastbound (near Percy Hobbs Roundabout)
On approach to the local diversion route, signage will be placed advising “Route not suitable for HGVs” and ‘escape routes’ notified.
The Road Haulage Association and the Fleet Transport Association will be notified who in turn will be able to publicise the closure with their members and stakeholders.
The road closure and diversion routes will be subject to a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) and as such, will be monitored by the local traffic police teams. The TTRO will be legally enforceable and compliance will be anticipated in the same way that all road users are fully expected to comply with the law.
Cycle & Pedestrian Routes
Safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists will be maintained during demolition of the bridge and throughout the works, either through and/or around the working area and this will be clearly signposted.
With regard to the completed scheme, Cycle Route 224 links Alton town centre with the A339 Whitedown Lane (which connects with the Basingstoke Road to the north by way of the A339).
Route 224 passes to the north of The Butts (via the highway of ‘The Butts’); signal-controlled crossing facilities are provided at the north eastern end of The Butts, enabling cyclists to cross over Butts Road and access this link.
To reach the Basingstoke Road cyclists will be provided with a choice; either they may choose to use Route 224 (and the A339 Whitedown Lane) or navigate the new roundabout junction.
If choosing to route via the new junction, cyclists may choose to navigate the circulatory carriageway (like motorised traffic) or alternatively dismount to use the footways and splitter/crossing island on the A339 Selborne Road approach to the south. This links into the shared foot/cycleway on the western side of the junction and will route under the bridge and past the French Horn public house.
Pedestrians will benefit from more footways and splitter/crossing islands to make walking routes safer. Footways will be widened becoming combined foot/cycle ways from the French Horn public house on Whitedown Lane with access to Winchester Road and along Selborne Road.
As the scheme has progressed through the planning process, it has been subjected to several design checks and reviews by Hampshire County Council officers and been amended following comments received. The scheme has undergone Stage 1 and Stage 2 Safety Audits by an accredited, safety auditor independent of both Hampshire County Council and the designer. The scheme is highway standard compliant with no departures from standard and benefits from a signed S278 agreement between the various parties. The principles of the scheme have therefore, been accepted.
We have met with Stagecoach and Hampshire County Council Highways Department to discuss potential rerouting of local bus services. Once these plans are formally agreed, they will be publicised on the website and locally on site, with appropriate notice being given.
The Butts ‘Alternative’ Scheme
A highway scheme that utilised The Butts was tabled as part of early options with Hampshire County Council. It was considered however, that this would have resulted in a significant negative impact on the sensitive community asset of the Butts and so it was discounted.
Approval of the works was subject to the provision of ecological method statements, which were submitted to and approved by Hampshire County Council. Works carried out to date, which include vegetation clearance and demolition, were supervised by qualified ecologists. Future works will comprise vegetation removal on the railway embankment, which will be similarly supervised.
Road condition surveys will be undertaken both prior to and following works on the highway. Where the scheme can reasonably be found to have caused a defect, these will then be ‘made good’ following the completion of the main scheme.
Benefits of the Scheme
While these works are necessary to support new residential development and therefore create new housing in Alton and the surrounding areas, there are also significant benefits to Alton’s existing residents. In creating the required new road space and simplifying the existing arrangement, the new junction and bridge will ease traffic movements, removing a local bottleneck and improving local pedestrian and cycle links.
Sports Centre Works
Liaison with the team responsible for the sports centre works will continue as the Butts Bridge works progress. Access to the sports centre site won’t be prejudiced by the works to the Butts Bridge, however, HGV deliveries will need to be made to/from the north. Drivers of deliveries to the sports centre will need to be advised of the appropriate routes in/out of the sports centre site and this will be managed through coordination with the sports centre construction team.
The Watercress Line will be closed for some 23 weeks during the winter months, a period when it is traditionally less active. When trains do run during this period, they will be terminated in Medstead rather than at Alton.
Visual Impact of the Scheme
In the short term the roundabout will be grassed. The local council will have the opportunity to seek sponsorship that can contribute towards the cost of future soft landscaping and maintenance.
Future Mitigation Measures
Planning obligations to mitigate the impact of the Butts Bridge roadworks scheme will be funded through a S106 contribution that has been agreed between the various parties and Hampshire County Council. It is incumbent on Hampshire County Council to develop and construct any scheme that they consider appropriate using the funds that have been settled on them. These works would not form part of this contract, which is with Homes England. Potentially a separate contract could be made with Hampshire County Council for Knights Brown to complete any such works prior to leaving site.