MOTORISTS have been warned to prepare for jams when work starts on a major Hampshire road junction.

Eighteen weeks of works are due to begin at the crossroads of Leigh Road, Passfield Avenue and Woodside Road in Eastleigh on Monday.

The work, close to junction 13 of the M3, will include upgrading all the traffic lights and introducing an additional left turn lane on Passfield Avenue for traffic turning into Leigh Road.

Existing left turn filter lanes on each side of the Leigh Road junction will be extended to accommodate more traffic turning left at the junction.

The recently widening of the footpath on the north side of Leigh Road will be redesignated as a shared use cycle path from the traffic lights to Brookwood Avenue with warning signs for cyclists and pedestrians.

Two signal-controlled Toucan crossings will be provided, one on the north side of Leigh Road across Woodside Avenue and the other on the western side of the junction allowing pedestrians and cyclists to cross Leigh Road.

The roadworks, which are aimed at reducing congestion and improving accessibility for cyclists and pedestrians, are expected to be completed by the summer.

People staying at the Holiday Inn in Leigh Road and shoppers using the retail park opposite will also face delays.

Holiday Inn general manager Alastair Lawson said: "We had a site meeting with all the contractors and I now know that there's going to be an 18-week period where they're working on all eight corners.

"The only downside we're going to see is that people leaving the hotel aren't going to be able to turn right out of the car park. They're going to have to follow the road all the way round on to Leigh Road then right again. It's going to be a wee bit painful to go down towards the airport.

"At the right time it can get very busy and we don't want to annoy the guests - we have customer satisfaction to fulfil."

Vikki Rose, duty manager of Halfords in Woodside Road, said: "The biggest impact will be during rush hour. Weekends are very busy as well so I can't see it will help much."

Council chiefs are warning drivers to allow extra time for their journeys and say the works are vital to cut congestion.

Councillor Sean Woodward, Hampshire county council's executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: “These works are essential to reduce delays in this busy area, and to ensure the junction operates more efficiently in order to cope with future demand.

"It’s also a good opportunity to enhance the provision for cyclists and pedestrians, with the inclusion of crossings.

"Highways officers have planned the works carefully to prevent undue disruption, but some inconvenience will be unavoidable, so I would ask anyone who lives or regularly travels in that area to allow extra time for their journeys.”

Eastleigh borough councillor Wayne Irish added: "I know it's a bit of disruption but you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

"You've got to put up with these things. Lots of pedestrians have contacted me. People have complained about the crossing and local people that walk will find it easier."

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has its headquarters in Leigh Road. A spokesman said: "As far as we're aware there's no impact from or to our stations."