National motorways experts need to consider the best route for a faster road connection to the south coast – Dorset being a potential candidate for this major improvement in infrastructure.
As part of the government’s Road Investment Strategy (RIS2), Highways England will assess the current north-south connectivity between the M4 and the south coast, with each A-road north-south.
The study includes the review of road infrastructure such as the A350 via Wiltshire and Dorset as well as the A37 via Somerset and Dorset, the A338 via Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset and the A36 via Somerset and Wiltshire.
Transport Assessments are also underway, led by the Western Gateway subnational transport body, to examine rail services from Weymouth to Waterloo and Weymouth to Yeovil, to develop a multimodal overview of strategic transport.
The results of the RIS2 assessment will be shared with local authorities through the regional transport body once completed.
The A350 is already recognized by the Dorset Council as a major strategic route, with the A37, A354 and A35 between Bere Regis and Poole, of which the council is responsible for maintenance.
Advisor Ray Bryan, portfolio holder for highways, travel and the environment, said: “Projects funded by RIS2 are not expected to start until 2030 and, until then, we currently have no plans for others. changes to the A350 or C13, except for Dinah’s Hollow’s high profile ongoing stabilization program.
“The measures put in place in 2018, including the one-way advisory system, are generally working well to manage traffic in the area.
“It is widely recognized that the transport corridor between the Midlands and the south coast needs to be improved.
“The study will seek to understand current north-south demands and give an idea of what future traffic movements might look like. Highways England is reviewing his project and we look forward to receiving more information from him in the fall. ‘
It has been recognized for some time that the north-south roads of Dorset itself are no longer suitable for the volume and types of modern vehicles that circulate there.
As part of a medium-term solution to alleviate some of the problems facing communities along the roads, £ 2.4million from the government’s National Productivity Investment Fund was used in 2018 to implement a route management program and perform maintenance and structural improvements along the A350. and C13.
As part of this, an advisory one-way route has been created to help improve the flow of heavy goods vehicles through the North Dorset region, using the A350 northbound towards Shaftesbury and the C13 southbound, towards Blandford.
At the time, Dorset County Council assured residents that it would continue to press central government for a long-term strategic route option to strengthen the transport network and support economic growth through to the Dorset Ports link and the M4.
Highways England is due to start its RIS2 assessment in September, which will hopefully be the first step towards a long-term solution to current north-south connectivity issues.