WORK is about to restart on a £230,000 project to make a Hampshire town centre safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Hampshire County Council is planning to make a raft of improvements to streets in Ringwood ahead of a Highways England scheme to widen the westbound carriageway of the A31.

The junction of West Street and the A31 will be closed as part of a plan to cut congestion on the dual carriageway.

Cllr Rob Humby, the county council's executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: “We’ve seen a dramatic drop in traffic as our lifestyles and work patterns have changed during the coronavirus outbreak with many people walking and cycling more.

"I think it will be important to hold on to the benefits of more active travel as we come out of lockdown.

“Hampshire County Council has been working collaboratively with New Forest District Council and Ringwood Town Council to develop a programme of small-scale measures that support the Ringwood Town Access Plan.

"These measures will help improve pedestrian and cycle safety while ensuring good access to the town remains after the closure of West Street.”

Following a public consultation carried out in 2017, Highways England is forging ahead with plans to upgrade the A31 widening the westbound carriageway as well as closing the West Street access.

New Forest Post:

The scheme has prompted the county council to spend £229,000 on improvements to the town centre.

These include widening and resurfacing the Strides Lane footpath and installing new dropped kerbs, installing traffic calming measures to create a gateway at the Market Place end of West Street, improving the pedestrian crossing outside Ringwood Meeting House and upgrading the crossing between the Furlong Shopping Centre and the Ringwood Gateway/the town centre car parks.

The work will be carried out by ROCON Construction Ltd.

A county council spokesman said: "ROCON will be following national guidelines on social distancing and there is no reason to anticipate contact with members of the public."

Work to enable the closure of the West Street/A31 junction will be completed later this year or early next year, followed by the reversal of the one-way traffic flow in Meeting House Lane.