A BUSY New Forest road will be closed to allow engineers to inspect an ageing steel bridge that is due to be replaced.

The closure will enable safety checks to be carried out on the bridge, which carries the A35 Lyndhurst to Christchurch route over Station Road, Holmsley.

Hampshire County Council says the inspection is part of the bridge's ongoing maintenance programme.

As a safety precaution Station Road will be shut while the checks are conducted during off-peak hours on November 25.

But the tearooms at the former Holmsley station will remain open.

Cllr Rob Humby, the council's executive member for environment and transport, said: "It's still our aim to begin work on replacing the bridge in the next financial year and until then inspections need to be carried out regularly to monitor the existing bridge’s condition.

"As with all on-site work, the engineers will take appropriate coronavirus precautions.

“We remind drivers to follow the diversion route and avoid cutting across minor roads such as Holmsley Passage. Any increase in two-way traffic on these minor roads will lead to damage to the verges which are part of the protected environment of New Forest National Park.”

As reported in the Daily Echo, the bridge is due to be replaced at a cost of at least £5.5m.

The county council is also planning to re-align a 380-metre stretch of the A35.

To keep traffic flowing the new bridge will be built alongside the existing one, which will then be demolished.

But lane closures and full road closures will have to be carried out while the bridge is being replaced and new sections of road are tied into the existing A35.

The county council says every effort will be made to minimise the closures and signed diversion routes will be in place.