A £2.3M makeover of one of Hampshire’s busiest motorway junctions is crucial to the economic success of Southampton, experts have said.

The boss of the Port of Southampton has backed the project to improve junction three of the M27, revealed in yesterday’s Daily Echo.

Motoring organisation the AA is also in favour – despite the fact that drivers will face months of delays while the work is carried out.

The impact of the improvements will be felt by the thousands of holidaymakers who travel towards cruise ships at the docks via the M271 every year and up to 1,500 trucks collecting or delivering containers via junction three and the M271.

Nick Ridehalgh, director of Associated British Ports, which owns the docks, said: “The Port of Southampton supports 15,000 jobs and contributes £1 billion to the economy every year. “Continuing to improve the port’s excellent transport links will help maintain its position as a vital global gateway for businesses and exporters across the UK.

“As the M27 junction three project is delivered, we will work with the council and other public agencies to ensure that any short-term disruption is minimised.

Daily Echo:

“There is no doubt that this project is important for the long-term success of both the port and the city.”

Work to widen the slip road off the westbound carriageway and the M271 approaches will start in July and is expected to last at least eight months until the end of March.

Workers will add a third lane on the slip road off the westbound carriageway of the M27, the eastern side of the roundabout and both the northbound and southbound approaches to the motorway from the M27, as well as additional traffic lights.

The footbridge across the M27 to the east of the M271 will stay in place.

Head of roads policy at the AA, Paul Watters, said: “Most of the roadworks will be off carriageway, putting in electrical equipment and probably extending the hard shoulder, so with careful timing it shouldn’t hit busy times.

“Clearly we’re happy about this.

“We’ve seen massive improvement at the M27 main carriageway at this location and so to improve the M271 junction will be the completion of a much-needed improvement.

“This is a very important route and congestion is wasteful to the economy.

“I don’t think you’ll ever completely solve the problems but I think the peak hour commute probably should be eased.”