Work is set to start to link an existing busy road in north Dorset to the new Principal Street in Gillingham.

Construction of the Principal Street – a 1.3km-long residential road to support the Gillingham southern expansion – started in August 2021, and work is now needed to tie its western end into the B3092.

The new junction will require northbound traffic heading towards Gillingham on the B3092 to give way to vehicles. The southbound flow of traffic leaving Gillingham on the B3092 will seamlessly join the Principal Street or have a dedicated right turn lane to continue onto the B3092.

From Monday 14 February, for two weeks, there will be two-way traffic lights between Lodden Bridge and the Cole Street Lane junction. From Tuesday 1 March, this section of road will be fully closed to all vehicles for around six weeks.

Due to the nature of the work taking place, it’s not possible to keep the road open. A 300mm difference in the finished road levels means the existing B3092 needs to be reconstructed to join the new road – with up to 90cm of depth set to be dug out. Protective utility tubes (ducts) are being installed under the road and overhead electricity poles are being relocated, along with BT poles.

A signed diversion route will direct drivers to use the A30 and travel via Shaftesbury to reach their destination; B3092 – A30 – B3081 – B3092.

A 3.5tonne weight limit (except for access) is planned for Cole Street Lane during the road closure to help reduce disruption and minimise rat running.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “We appreciate the disruption this will have on residents and businesses over the next two months, but there is no other way to complete this work and it’s the best time of year to carry it out due to lower traffic flows.

“Please follow the diversion route, as local lanes will not be suitable for many vehicles and Cole Street Lane is already busier than usual as it is being used by construction workers to access the site offices and is the route for egressing site traffic.

“Our contractor, Hanson, is monitoring debris on roads from construction traffic and will be carrying out sweeping as necessary.”

Work to date has focussed on completing earthworks for the alignment of the road and installing foul and storm drainage systems. This includes two large culverts which have been designed for a one-in-one-hundred-year flood event, with climate change also considered as part of their design.

Over the coming months, work includes continuing with earthworks for the road construction, installing lower road layers for kerbing works to begin, and continuing with duct crossings and the installation of the Wessex Water main.

Gillingham southern expansion is set to deliver 1,800 homes, a new primary school, health facilities, sports pitches, play areas, shops and open spaces.

A successful bid to Homes England’s Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) granted £6.31m to Dorset Council to fund the design of the road, secure planning approval and build the road through the development.

This money will be recovered through Section 106 developer contributions from the expansion which will be reinvested in housing projects across the Dorset Council area.

There will be no through-access along the new road until Welbeck Land Ltd has completed its first phase of development, which includes building the final junction at the eastern end of Principal Street onto Shaftesbury Road.

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