Initial work has started in preparation for the temporary closure of Gravel Hill as part of the major investment in Poole’s infrastructure by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership.
Gravel Hill will be closed to traffic from Sunday 24 July 2016 for a four month period enabling major works to be carried out to strengthen the embankment, widen the footway to create a shared footway/cycleway and improvements to the Gravel Hill and Queen Ann Drive junction.
Access for Gravel Hill residents, cyclists and pedestrians will be maintained throughout the closure. In addition Arrowsmith Road will remain open offering an effective alternative route for local drivers, particularly as the road will not be signed as a diversion. The existing 7.5 tonne weight limit restriction will remain in force.
To ensure that Magna Road, a key part of the diversion route, does not become blocked by vehicles waiting to turn right into Arrowsmith Road, temporary traffic signals will be installed at this junction.
Work started on Monday 20 June to ensure the temporary signals could be commissioned in time for the main Gravel Hill closure. The works include:
• Installing traffic signals at the junction of Magna Road and Arrowsmith Road
• Installing effective traffic detection loops providing a greater control over traffic detection as well as a more robust and reliable system that will operate over a four month period
• Realigning the length of kerb line and marginally widening Magna Road to create a right-turn lane
• Installing necessary signs and lines
These temporary works and traffic signals will help reduce the impact of the Gravel Hill closure on residents and local businesses. However after the completion of the main works if any of these temporary measures are considered of benefit to the local community then they could possibly be retained.
Cllr Drew Mellor, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Transportation, Borough of Poole, said: “Initially it was proposed to close Arrowsmith Road to through traffic for the duration of the Gravel Hill closure. Following feedback from Cllr Jane Newell, drivers and emergency services we reviewed the scheme to see whether we could keep Arrowsmith Road open and help reduce the level of traffic congestion during the main works.
“There will unfortunately be some disruption to road users but we have scheduled the work in such a way as to minimise the impact during peak hours. We would like to thank drivers in advance for their patience and understanding while these works are carried out."
Cllr Jane Newell, Ward Member for Merley & Bearwood, said: "I am pleased this initiative is being undertaken by the council. The junction of Arrowsmith Road and Queen Anne Drive has been a concern for some time, particularly poor sight lines on exiting Arrowsmith Road. I have been working in consultation with residents and the Portfolio Holder, Cllr Drew Mellor, on this issue. The introduction of traffic lights will improve conditions for users and assist with traffic conditions particularly during the period of road improvements to Gravel Hill."
Cllr David Brown, Ward Member for Merley & Bearwood, said: “The closure of Gravel Hill for essential improvements will inevitably cause inconvenience for local people, so it is good news that Arrowsmith Road will be kept open to local traffic to help residents going about their day-to-day activities. The installation of temporary traffic signals and the widening of the junction of Arrowsmith Road and Queen Anne Drive will not only help keep traffic moving but should make this junction safer for us all.”
These improvements are part of a much wider co-ordinated programme that will see the A31 to the Port of Poole benefit from significant investment over the next few years. Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership secured £23.3 million through the Dorset Growth Deal to invest into four major transport schemes to improve access into and around the Port of Poole. This initiative will help boost economic growth and bring an anticipated £500 million of leveraged private investment in to the area as well as creating up to 1500 new jobs and 3000 new homes.