A MULTI-million-pound project to replace a crumbling bridge in the New Forest is due to start next summer.

The 112-year-old bridge forms part of the A35 - the main Lyndhurst to Christchurch route - and is used by thousands of vehicles a day.

Hampshire County Council is forging ahead with plans to replace the structure, which carries the A35 over a former railway line.

Cllr Rob Humby, executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: "We have been monitoring this bridge since it became the county council’s responsibility in 2012.

"The bridge has now deteriorated to the point where replacement is the only viable option."

A new bridge will be built alongside the existing one, which will then be removed. The county council is also planning to realign a 380-metre stretch of the A35.

Highway chiefs say the work will be completed by the end of June 2022 to reduce its impact on the tourist season.

Cllr Humby said: "The new single span integral concrete bridge will minimise maintenance costs, while the improvements to the A35 will include enhanced drainage in the area and ensure safer travel on this key route through the New Forest."

The bridge carries traffic over a former railway line which is now a road. The old Holmsley station is nearby.

Cllr Humby said the county council was working with other organisations "to make sure the scheme is carried out sensitively in this unique part of Hampshire".

He added: “Local councillors, nearby residents and local businesses have been contacted and this will continue during the construction phases. I would like to emphasise that the Old Station Tea Rooms will be open for business as usual throughout the works."

Preliminary work has been taking place throughout the autumn and will continue until next March.

A county council spokesperson said: "Temporary road closures and lane closures will be required for some operations although every effort will be made to minimise disruption and signed diversion routes will be in place.

"The bridge's general condition has been steadily deteriorating over the years, primarily due to corrosion of the steel plates and rivets.

"The county council has continually assessed the structure to ensure it can continue to support the required traffic loadings, despite its condition."


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