ONE of Hampshire’s biggest bottlenecks is about to get worse – and the extra gridlock is likely to last for five months.
Major repairs to roads, sewers and gas mains in the centre of Lyndhurst will cause increased congestion until the end of February next year.
The looming disruption has angered recession-hit traders battling to recover from a disastrous summer.
But Hampshire County Council says problems will be kept to a minimum, with no work being carried out during half-term and Christmas.
The first major scheme is due to start on Monday, when engineers begin a four-week project to replace a gas main in Romsey Road – part of the main north-south route through the New Forest.
The single-lane High Street is due to be resurfaced on October 17-19. No further work is planned until January 14, when engineers from Southern Water are due to carry out a one-month sewer-lining project in Romsey Road. A similar scheme is scheduled to start in the High Street on February 12.
But Lyndhurst Chamber of Trade says that all the work should be carried out in January and February – the two quietest months of the year.
Chairman Trevor English said: “We’ve had a lousy summer, mostly because of the weather, and some businesses have seen their trade drop by between 25 and 30 per cent. We know it’s got to be done but it’s starting a bit too early. Surely they could have let us see the season through.”
However, Hampshire County Council said it was impossible to carry out road resurfacing in January and February because the quality of the work would be affected by the cold weather.
The authority has teamed up with public utility companies in a bid to ensure that the various repair projects cause the least disruption.
Councillor Mel Kendal, executive member for transport and environment, said: “Local businesses will be open as usual.
“I understand the work may be inconvenient for local people but this is a much-needed update to Lyndhurst’s infrastructure.”