CIVIC chiefs have been accused of creating a "superhighway for lorries" by drawing up multi-million-pound plans to widen a Hampshire commuter route.

Hampshire County Council has published proposals to turn tree-lined sections of the A326 into a dual carriageway as part of a new transport strategy.

Totton and Marchwood county councillor David Harrison has hit out at the financial and environmental cost of the scheme.

Referring to increased activity at Marchwood Military Port and the potential redevelopment of Dibden Bay he said it was "more about creating an extended Southampton docks" than benefitting the average motorist.

Widening the Totton and Marchwood sections of the A326 would create a "superhighway for lorry traffic", he said.

Cllr Harrison also warned that the scheme would increase the extent to which Totton and the Waterside were cut off from the New Forest.

Posting on social media he added: "There is also the issue of damaging the environment by widening the road.

"There's a much-valued 'green buffer" of established woodland between the A326 and nearby housing. It's great for wildlife and serves as protection for residents against noise nuisance and air pollution."

Speaking after a visit to West Totton he said most householders were "horrified" at the prospect of losing the trees that shielded their homes from the road.

"There were concerns about more noise nuisance, pollution and the loss of wildlife, plus the impact on house prices and also safety. There was little enthusiasm for replacing the trees with a bund or fence," he said.

The Waterside Transport Strategy says the busiest parts of the A326 are used by about 29,000 vehicles a day, with various sections seeing significant congestion and delays.

It adds: "This congestion means the A326 is unable to cope with the existing levels of traffic at peak times and has very limited potential to accommodate any of the significant amount of future growth in traffic that is likely to occur."

The strategy cites the lack of viable alternative routes when problems occur on the A326.

It says traffic is often forced to use minor routes that are not suitable for HGVs, including narrow roads through the New Forest National Park.

Cllr Rob Humby is deputy leader of the authority and executive lead member for economy, transport and environment.

He said: "Hampshire County Council is encouraging those who live, work or travel to the Waterside area of Hampshire – the area from Totton to Lepe to take part in the Waterside Transport Strategy consultation, to contribute their views before the consultation closes at midnight on 29 August."

Cllr Humby also addressed criticisms of the scheme's impact on journey times, which will improve by only a few minutes.

He said: “The journey time savings being referred to are from just one option/scenario we are looking at for the A326 between Michigan Way and Sizer Way.

"However, there are a number of different options being developed with varying journey time savings depending on the level of the intervention.

"More information on the scheme can be found on the County Council’s webpage: Waterside Transport Strategy consultation.”

To take part in the consultation visit: