Plans to make a dangerous staggered road junction safer have moved a step closer with the funding agreed to create a new roundabout.
The three-arm roundabout will be built at Hartford Bridge Flats, along the A30/A327 in Blackbushe – a stretch that has been the scene of 20 accidents in the last five years.
Providing access to Blackbushe Airport, the roundabout will also accommodate extra traffic expected from a nearby recycling centre, which is expanding, and potential congestion from the proposed housing development at Arborfield Garrison.
Claire Lucas, senior programme officer at Hampshire County Council, applied to the Department For Transport for funding to support the project.
She said in her application: “Hartford Bridge Flats junction experiences localised, peak hour congestion and both junctions suffer from poor accident records.
“A roundabout is considered to be the required solution both to create gaps in the heavy volume of traffic on the A30 to allow A327 traffic to enter the junction, and to address the road safety."
Between September 2008 and August 2013 there were 19 accidents causing injury, of which five were classed as serious and four affected vulnerable road users such as motor cyclists.
Two of the accidents were near-fatalities, resulting in life-changing injuries.
An analysis of these incidents showed, of the movements at the junction, one accident involved the approach to the junction and 18 of the accidents involved turning movements.
Currently, Hartford Bridge Flats junction is a staggered crossroads between the A30, A327 and Blackbushes Road. It connects to the M3 at junctions 4, 4A and 5, and links Basingstoke with Camberley.
The new roundabout near Hook will provide turns for Blackbushes Road as well as the planned access to Blackbushe Airport.
Not only is the introduction of the roundabout expected to address road safety problems, it is also hoped to ease congestion.
Ms Lucas said in her application: “In addition, permitted expansion at Warren Heath for recycling facilities will extend and intensify use of this junction, particularly by HGV traffic.
“Furthermore, substantial redevelopment proposals currently being proposed at the former Arborfield Garrison strategic development location will require linkage via the A327 to the Enterprise M3 LEP area”.
Ms Lucas added that good road links were ‘essential’ to Hart District’s economy as about 60% of the resident workforce commuted out of the area to work.
At a cost of £2,463, the Department For Transport has agreed to provide most of the funding, with the remainder coming from the county council.
The project is expected to start in August with a completion date of March 2015.
Blackbushe is not the only area set to benefit from government funding to tackle congested and unsafe roads. Dozens of projects have been improved through the Government’s local pinch point fund.
The Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLough-lin, said: “Whether it’s unblocking bottlenecks on local roads, improving trouble spots on our motorways and trunk roads, or working to deliver better railways through electrification, these projects will benefit communities up and down the country and help keep Britain moving.
“By investing in our local and regional transport infrastructure we can help support new jobs and boost our overall competitiveness in the global economic race.”