South England Trunk and Primary Road Enhancement Proposals

Created by Andrew Roberts 2010

Updated September 2012


This document still presents a good plan of the road through Dorset.

However, there are more up to date and interactive resources now available. This is provided via an annotated Google Earth Overlay. This overlay shows the proposed new carriageways in such detail that in most cases the lane markings are shown to the nearest meter.

The overlay also shows multiple proposals of routes which can be switched between.

Download Latest Google Earth Overlay here


The Overlay is not yet complete, however the following image shows an idea of the network we are trying to produce in the South of England.


Cost Estimate

An estimate of costs for the whole of the UK (based on accessing the costs in a few counties, and scaling up to the whole of the UK)

Bare essentials (tackling congestion only) £20Bn

A safer Britain (tackling dangerous roads, and adding safe over taking opportunities via short dual carriageway sections) +£10Bn

The ultimate goal (Providing continuous high quality dual carriageways from almost all Trunk Roads, with links to local areas) +£30Bn


Whatever money is spent, around 50% comes back almost instantly in taxes, (30% paying employees, 20% on whatever the employees buy, construction taxes, importation taxes).

Also the road network will double in value over the next 10 years.

So spending £50Bn on a road network today will return £25Bn in taxes, and be worth £100Bn in 10 years.


A good target would been between ‘Safer Britain’ and ‘The Ultimate Goal”. After all, if we do the ultimate goal now, we’ll have nothing to work on in the future!


A September 2012 power point presentation shows this in more detail just for Dorset.

Dorset Powerpoint – September 2012

Original Document – contains details of aspects of new plan


A serious look at addressing the congestion issues on the trunk roads in Southern England detailing key problems and cost effective solutions.

The principal is to make the most of the roads we already have (in particular the dual carriageways) but to link missing sections to provide continuous high grade roads.

Dual carriageways have been selected in most high volume scenarios as the most cost effective, safest, fastest and easiest for road users to drive along.

A single lane of traffic is congested with just one slow moving vehicle, two lanes requires in excess of 80,000 vehicles per day to become near capacity, with room for an extra 20,000 vehicles before the average speed drops below 70mph.

Map showing (with proposals) the dual carriageways in this section of England.

Original A roads (green)

Existing Dual Carriageways (blue)

New Dual Carriageways (red)


South England Trunk and Primary Road Enhancement Proposals. 1

Summary. 1

Contents. 1

The Dorset Section. 2

Issues. 2

The section from Winterborne Zelston toward the Ferndown bypass. 2

Canford Bottom roundabout 3

The west bound two lane section at Ringwood (Hampshire) 3

The A35 between Bere Regis and Poole. 3

Possible Solutions. 3

New dual carriageway from Bere Regis to Wimborne (and Poole via the A350) 4

Extension of the dual carriageway from West Moors Ferndown to Merley roundabout (at Oakley) 7

Poole to A31 link road. 10

Merley reconstruction. 11

The west bound two lane section at Ringwood. 13

Environmental Concerns for all proposals. 20

Cycle Routes. 20

Lay-bys and services. 20

Signage. 20

Crawler lanes on the A31 through the New Forest 21

Major Issues with the Crawler lane proposal 21

Olympics 2012 impact on A31. 22

Proposals listed by importance and reasons. 22

Alternatives for funding. 23

More Information on these Proposals. 23

References. 23

The Dorset Section


The A31 is single carriageway from its start (near Bere Regis) until it reaches the last section of the Ferndown bypass (opened 1991).

The A31 is the only trunk road through the New Forest, and is the only connection between Dorset and the North East (via the A34 / M3), the East (via the M27), and Dover. As such its position on the west side of the New Forest must be reached in order to travel further east.

Along the 15 mile single carriageway section the road quality varies from the windy 40mph section through Winterborne Zelston, to the newer wider TD27 standard sections around Wimborne.

This road carries lorries supplying the South West (Exeter, Dorchester, Weymouth and Bridport, Blandford). It also has a number of escorted wide vehicles using this road, carrying boats, tanks, mobile classrooms, and conservatories.

Due to the high traffic volume, and windy narrow roads the entire section is an accident hot spot. The Drax wall despite being regularly repaired is always damaged with large holes resulting from accidents along that road.

The section from Winterborne Zelston toward the Ferndown bypass.

As the road goes south of Winterborne Zelston the road is narrow, windy and has a speed limit of 40mph which is not enforced. During rush hour slow moving traffic in one direction is faced by fast oncoming traffic. This fast traffic cuts the corner of the windy bends facing oncoming traffic in the middle of the road.

The road travels north of Clarborough Park, where it faces mile long straights connected by sharp blind bends (with junctions on every bend). Due to the few overtaking places on this 7 mile stretch of road drivers use this dangerous section of road to get past lorries and tractors despite the risk of cars suddenly appearing around the next bend.

Just 3 miles south of the A31 the A35 lies parallel, which is another accident hot spot.

Just west of Charborough Park the A31 crosses the A350 that links Poole and Bournemouth with Blandford, Shaftesbury and the North West. This is a busy roundabout with the majority of traffic crossing the roundabout and very little moving from the A31 to A350 or visa versa.

The A31 then continues west along another windy road past garages, houses and driveways.

Eventually the A31 passes through the north edge of Corfe Mullen (where there is no reduced speed limit).

These are five dangerous, slow, and congested stretches of road that run on from each other in this 7 mile section of road. “there are high levels of accident clusters throughout the length of road in East Dorset” [2]

After this point the road widens (although still single carriageway) and continues to the edge of the Wimborne bypass.

Canford Bottom roundabout

The A31 crosses the B3073 at Canford Bottom roundabout. Due to the high volume of traffic crossing this 6 exit roundabout in all directions, queues backup for up to 4 miles in each direction along the A31 during rush hour. This congestion can stretch back to the A350 blocking the roundabout.

The lack of a sensible road from Poole to the A31 forces traffic to travel either through Oakley (adding to the traffic at Canford Bottom roundabout), or along the A348 through residential areas and across the narrow Longham bridge.

The west bound two lane section at Ringwood (Hampshire)

The A31 westbound between Ringwood and the A338 hosts a short slip road forcing traffic to join the two lane dual carriageway on a bend. This congestion causes queues backward along the A31 to the edge of the New Forest.

The A31 through St Leonards is hindered with side roads, small roundabouts, and a speed limit of 50mph. The road is designed to slowly take a medium volume of traffic through St Leonards but is taking a high volume.

According the Hampshire road development action plan for 2006-2011 this stretch of road is to be targeted for improvements. But in the beginning of 2010 no such work has been carried out and there do not appear to be any plans to do so.

The A35 between Bere Regis and Poole

The A35 between Bere Regis and the start of the Upton by-pass dual carriageway is narrow and suffers from hills and bends and blind junctions. This is another serious accident hot spot.

Possible Solutions

Below are a number of proposals each designed to solve one or more of the issues listed above.

For each proposal there is a description, and a number of maps showing the proposal and variations. There is also a list of problems with each proposal and solutions for each problem. There are also construction issues and solutions, and highlights of the finished proposal.

New dual carriageway from Bere Regis to Wimborne (and Poole via the A350)

The area between Winterborne Zelston and the start of the Ferndown by-pass is one of the oldest sections of the A31. It is also the biggest accident spot of the entire road. Five of the biggest problems with the A31 fall within this 7 mile stretch of road.

This road follows a fairly erratic course as it goes north of Charborough Park. It also runs reasonably closely to the A35 (another accident hot spot).

To resolve this there should be a by-pass for Winterborne Zelston, Charborough Park, and an improved graded junction with the A350. This new road would be built south of Charborough Park and as such join the A350 a mile south of the current roundabout.

This road would also act as a by-pass for the section of the A35 from Bere Regis to Upton. Where traffic would find the short section of A350 preferable to the three times longer section of the A35.

Since this road is a trunk road, and would be carrying traffic from the West (Exeter, Dorchester, Weymouth, Bridport, Bere Regis) to the East (Southampton, Portsmouth, Dover, London, Poole, Bournemouth) it should be an uninterrupted dual carriageway for its entire length.

The junction between the proposed new A31 dual carriageway and the existing A350 should be graded such that neither flow of traffic interferes with each other.

Map showing the proposed new dual carriageway between Winterborne Zelston and the B3074.

Original A roads (green)

Proposed Dual Carriageway (blue)

Changes to existing roads (cyan)

The map above shows a new roundabout built at the south corner of Charborough Park. This is a very sharp corner and the new dual carriageway hugs the boundary tightly. The roundabout provides a safer means of putting a sharp bend in the road as traffic is forced to slow down. It also provides a useful connection road to Lychett Matravers.

A preferred solution is to cut the corner off of Charborough Park to allow a smoother curve on that corner.

Map showing the alternative junction south of Charborough Park (the wider through junction). Also shows the slip roads for the far left junction are not required.

Original A roads (green)

Proposed Dual Carriageway (blue)

Changes to existing roads (cyan)


The section of the A31 west of Winterborne Zelston toward Bere Regis is very good (for a single carriageway road), and so I propose building another road along side this one (on the south edge) to take westbound traffic, and using the existing road to carry eastbound traffic to continue the new dual carriageway all the way toward the roundabout with the A35.

Similarly the section of the A31 just west of the B3078 is very good and so I suggest using this as part of the final stage of the new dual carriageway as the westbound carriageway.

Map showing the entire proposed dual carriageway between the Bere Regis roundabout and the B3078 roundabout.

Original A roads (green)

Proposed Dual Carriageway (blue)

Changes to existing roads (cyan)

Once at the junction with the B7078 the road continues as a single carriageway road, as anything more than this would cause a bottle neck underneath the bridge for the B3073 just off of Merley roundabout, unless the bridge can be widened to support a dual carriageway underneath, but this would be very expensive.

Issues with this proposal

There are several country lanes that intercept the planned route for this bypass. The simple answer is to build a bridge to take each country lane over the dual carriageway, (and supply the bigger roads with slip roads as well to join the bypass). Building bridges are very expensive, and so the proposed route deliberately crosses as fewer roads as possible.

Local businesses benefitting from the traffic (Petrol station etc) would loose out as a result of this bypass.

The proposed route has a nasty bend at the lower corner of Charborough Park. There are many options available here…

  • The corner of Charborough park could be cut off and used to soften the bend.
  • A roundabout could be built on this corner (forcing all traffic to slow down) it would also link to Colehill Road leading to Lytchett Matravers.
  • The road could hug Charborough Park more loosely than proposed and go wide around the bottom.

This road would be fairly expensive. Although the earth works are fairly minimal as the land is fairly flat, there is always the cost of buying the land, and then the construction costs.

Due to the cost of this dual carriageway (estimated around £60M) it would require government funding, and it is very unlikely that could be obtained.

Construction issues

Most of this road is independent of the current A31. Even the additional carriageways alongside the A31 can be built with no disruption to the current road.

The construction of the A350 roundabout and bridge would require a temporary road to take the traffic while the road is built (or building the roundabout and bridge away from the current road).

The only real problems in construction are during the final phase where the old road is attached to the new road seamlessly. This work could be carried out at night when the traffic is at its lowest, potentially the whole road could be closed and traffic diverted down the A349 and along the A35 (but only for night traffic).

Where the dual carriageway makes use of the existing A31 for one of its carriageways, construction will interfere with the normal flow of traffic. In these cases temporary roads will need to be constructed to take traffic past the bridge construction sites.

Map to show the construction of the first bridge on the A31 (near Monkey World). The dual carriageway makes use of the current A31 in this section and a new carriageway runs alongside.

Dual Carriageway (blue)

Slip roads (cyan)

Temporary road (orange)



Once completed this would provide a constant dual carriageway from Dorchester to Wimborne. (Excluding the single carriageway sections of the A35, and the roundabout between the A31 and A35).

It may be worth building the additional carriageway along side the A35 between the west end of the Puddletown bypass and Dorchester to complete the dual carriageway to Stinsford roundabout. Any further westbound along the A35 would be very difficult due to the design of the road over the railway line and St Georges road.

Building the dual carriageway from the east end of the Puddletown bypass to the A35/A31 roundabout would be hindered by the lay of the land, the steep banks of each side would require extensive earth works to widen the gap. The simplest and cheapest solution is to raise the height of the road through the cutting. (Thus having the effect of widening it 3 metres for every metre added in height) And so only 2 metres would need to be added.

Extension of the dual carriageway from West Moors Ferndown to Merley roundabout (at Oakley)

The A31 from Trickett’s Cross westbound for 1.6 miles is currently a dual carriageway. This was in anticipation for the never built Ferndown relief road toward Poole. As a result, this is the best section of the A31 in Dorset, and is never congested.

The rest of the Ferndown bypass toward Merley roundabout is single carriageway and additionally carries Poole traffic avoiding the A348.

This road also intercepts the B3073 at Canford Bottom roundabout. A real effort has been taken at this roundabout to try and improve traffic flow with wide lanes, and a designated lane for all A31 traffic. Despite this effort, queues tail back for 2 miles in either direction.

This roundabout needs to be replaced with a graded junction, to take the A31 uninterrupted over the top with slip roads to allow access the current roundabout beneath. There is enough room to build this fly over with supports put down in the middle of the roundabout.

Due to the very difficult nature of ever widening this fly over, and the high traffic currently on this road, this fly over should be a dual carriageway.

Without this dual carriageway there is a risk of moving the bottleneck from the roundabout onto the slip roads of the flyover.

Arial view of Canford Bottom roundabout with overlays to show the proposed fly over and slip roads.

Original A roads (green)

Proposed Dual Carriageway (blue)

Changes / slip roads (cyan)

The dual carriageway would continue eastbound to link to the current dual carriageway, and westbound toward Merley roundabout.

Map showing the proposed dual carriageway along the current single carriageway Ferndown bypass.

Original A roads (green)

Proposed Dual Carriageway (blue - dotted)

Issues with this proposal

The A31 goes under the B3073 at Oakley and would require a wider gap under this bridge when made a dual carriageway. (See ‘Merley reconstruction’ below).

The land in this area is soft, and would require additional foundations.

The road Uddens Drive may require a connection to the A31, probably a bridge would be easier since the other side of this road links to Canford Bottom roundabout.

Construction Issues

The fly over at Canford Bottom roundabout would be difficult to build whilst the road was open. However by building the slip roads first, all A31 traffic can use the slip roads whilst the bridge itself is constructed. Since allowing traffic underneath the bridge during construction would be dangerous, the roundabout could be temporarily extended along the slip roads so that the entire bridge is built in the middle of the widened roundabout.


Arial view of Canford Bottom roundabout showing the proposed temporary extension of the roundabout for the bridge construction overhead.

Original A roads (green)

Proposed Dual Carriageway (blue)

Changes / slip roads (cyan)

When B3073 bridge was widened, it would most likely be closed whilst the work was carried out, along with the A31 underneath. Sending the A31 traffic along the B3073 and B3078 is an option, but not for a very long period of time. Work on the bridge would have to be done very rapidly. Day/night work solidly for as shorter time as possible.


Once completed (along with the previous proposal) there would be a constant dual carriageway / motorway from Dorchester to London. “The County Council has already expressed a firm view that the entire road east of Dorchester should become dual carriageway.” [2]

Map showing (with proposals) the entire length of dual carriageway from Dorchester east toward Ringwood.

Original A roads (green)

Dual carriageway inc proposals (red)

Poole to A31 link road

At present the current traffic from Poole heading north east (toward the M27) or west toward Dorchester is forced along windy narrow A roads.

The proposal is to build one dual carriageway to link all Poole traffic to the proposed A31 dual carriageway in such a way that it can be used for traffic heading to / from Dorchester and the M27.

Such a road would has to be a direct route for both purposes, and also as short as possible to keep the cost down.

Linking the proposed A31 dual carriageway at Merley roundabout to the current dual carriageway in Poole provides an ideal compromise for both purposes.

Traffic from Dorchester then travels along the proposed A31 dual carriageway between Bere Regis and Merley roundabout, and then travels south east into Poole, the journey time is considerably reduced, the route is safer, but it is around 1.6 miles longer.

Traffic from Poole to the M27 travels along the proposed Poole link dual carriageway to Merley roundabout and then continues eastbound along the proposed A31 dual carriageway toward Ringwood. The journey time is significantly reduced, the road is safer and the route is around 1 miles shorter depending on the start point in Poole.

This road also bypasses the A350 between the A31 and A35. It bypasses most of the A349 and A347.

Map showing the proposed dual carriageway link from Merley roundabout to A3049 dual carriageway in Poole.

Existing major A roads (green)

Minor A roads (orange)

Proposed dual carriageway (blue)

Issues with this proposal

This would require building a dual carriageway through the west edge of Merley and then joining onto the A31 at Merley roundabout. (See ‘Merley reconstruction’ below).


Creates a complete dual carriageway link between Poole, Dorchester and Ringwood.

Merley reconstruction

Merley roundabout at Oakley currently joins a mid point of the A31 with the A341 to Poole. All of these roads are single carriageway and are very congested.

The A341 currently cuts around the west side of Merley cutting through a residential area. To the far west of Merley lies a cycle path. This cycle path goes under the A341.

The most sensible route for the Poole link from Merley roundabout to Poole is along the cycle route for the first section.

This requires building an alternative cycle route alongside.

Oakley Hill on the A341 can be used as one carriageway with the southbound carriageway built alongside, this then cuts across the A341 near the entrance of Merley Park road continuing directly alongside the cycle route.

Map showing the proposed dual carriageway bypass around the west edge of Merley.

The dual carriageway flies over Merley Park road entrance allowing a connection with Gravel Hill and Merley lane.

Northern slip roads may be useful here, but not essential as Gravel Hill connects to the new dual carriageway at its south end.

Proposed dual carriageway (blue)

Changes to existing roads (red)

The B3073 bridge over the A31 at Oakley is not wide enough to support a dual carriageway underneath, there are two solutions for this.

The road beneath the bridge is wide enough for three lanes.

The first solution is to bring the A31 dual carriageway from the east up to that bridge and take the first westbound carriageway up a slip road to connect to the B3073. The B3073 then takes westbound A31 traffic round to the new dual carriageway at the next roundabout which bypasses the bridge. This is a very complicated solution that only benefits from not having to loose a lane at the B3073 bridge or reconstruct the B3073 bridge.

Map to show solution 1, where the A31 eastbound lane 1 is taken up a slip road to join the B3073, this road then links round to the next roundabout where it rejoins the A341 dual carriageway to Poole.

Road boundaries (orange)

Same direction lane boundaries (cyan)

Opposite direction lane boundaries (magenta)

Traffic light junction (green)


The second solution is to simply reconstruct the bridge to be wide enough for four lanes beneath it, two lanes for each direction. This would require closing this section of road whilst this work was done.

Map to show solution 2, where the bridge is widened to support the dual carriageway beneath it.

Far simpler road layout.

Road boundaries (orange)

Same direction lane boundaries (cyan)

Opposite direction lane boundaries (magenta)

Traffic light junction (green)


This results in a complete dual carriageway link from Poole to the A31.

Map showing (with proposals) the dual carriageways in this section of Dorset.

Original A roads (green)

Existing Dual Carriageways (blue)

New Dual Carriageways (red)

The west bound two lane section at Ringwood

During the development of the A338 to Christchurch the A31 between this junction and B3347 was enhanced. Due to a church yard near the westbound section this road was kept at two lanes but the eastbound section was widened to four lanes.

As a result the bottleneck of traffic from the B3347 joining the A31 westbound causes long tail backs that reach into the New Forest.

There is also a very short slip road here (which is built over the edge of the church yard).

This road needs to be widened to four lanes, the problem is finding a way to do this.

This road can actually be widened very cheaply by simply repainting the road, and moving the central reservation.

By reducing traffic on the eastbound carriageway to three lanes (rather than four) so that the traffic for the B3347 is compressed to one lane, the other lane could be used to carry westbound traffic.

The B3347 westbound slip road continues into the current left lane, the original left lane is moves into the current right lane, and the original right lane moves into the current eastbound right lane.

This solves the problem around the church, and balances the capacity of each carriageway.

The bridges just South West of the church are unbalanced, (four lanes east, two lanes west). There is enough room between the two bridges to widen the westbound carriageway to three lanes.

This does mean that the eastbound carriageway needs to drop a lane at this stage. Therefore I propose widening the eastbound carriageway to five lanes between the bridges and the B3347 slip road. When the eastbound right hand lane is given to westbound traffic that will leave four lanes (as it is now, just offset by one lane) for eastbound traffic.

Arial view with overlays to show the new road layout. The slip road becomes a new lane giving 3 lanes westbound.

Sides of road (orange)

Lane markings (cyan)

Hashed areas (hashed cyan / grey)


Once past these bridges the westbound carriageway can then link into the current four lane section.

Arial view showing the continuation of the proposed widened westbound carriageway joining the current four lane section.

Sides of road (orange)

Lane markings (cyan)

Hashed areas (hashed cyan / grey)

Issues with this proposal

This road is in Hampshire and not Dorset, but has a much larger effect on Dorset than Hampshire. It would require careful negotiation with Hampshire.

Widening the westbound bridge would be expensive.

Construction Issues

Due to the importance of this road, and the lack of alternative routes in the area, this road must remain open during construction work. And so the road can be altered in phases. At each phase there always remains at least two lanes in each direction (although usually three lanes eastbound).

Phase 1

The 1st lane of the eastbound carriageway is closed between the bridges and the Ringwood junction. The additional lane (on the north edge) is constructed alongside the 1st lane.

Carriageway boundaries (orange)

Coned carriageway boundaries (red)

Lane markings (cyan)

Are under construction (purple – shaded)


Phase 2

The eastbound carriageway is repainted such that it makes use of the newly constructed lane. Lane 1 is for Ringwood and lanes 2 and 3 are for the A31 eastbound. Lanes 4 and 5 are closed off so that the central reservation can be taken up, resurfacing as necessary. The central reservation is replaced with traffic cones on the right edge of both carriageways.

Carriageway boundaries (orange)

Coned carriageway boundaries (red)

Lane markings (cyan)

Are under construction (purple – shaded)

Phase 3

The traffic cones are reorganised so that all westbound traffic occupies lanes 4 and 5 of the eastbound carriageway and continues over the eastbound bridge such that there are just 2 lanes in each direction (This is the same pinch point as before westbound, but a more severe pinch point eastbound). The existing westbound carriageway is closed so that the bridge can be widened.

Carriageway boundaries (orange)

Coned carriageway boundaries (red)

Lane markings (cyan)

Are under construction (purple – shaded)

Phase 4

The widened westbound carriageway is reopened using the former central reservation and south half of the eastbound lane 5 as the westbound lane 3. The original lanes 1 and 2 flow into the new lanes 2 and 3, and the Ringwood sliproad becomes lane 1.

The eastbound carriageway lane 4 is closed so that the central reservation can be reconstructed in the north half of the eastbound lane 5.

Carriageway boundaries (orange)

Coned carriageway boundaries (red)

Lane markings (cyan)

Are under construction (purple – shaded)


The eastbound Ringwood lanes around the Ringwood junction are repainted so that there are four lanes eastbound with lanes 1 and 2 heading to Ringwood and lanes 3 and 4 remain on the A31. All remaining cones are collected and all lanes are opened as the new plan.

Carriageway boundaries (orange)

Lane markings (cyan)

Hashed areas (hashed cyan / grey)


Whilst the construction work is done in the above phases, moving from phase to phase requires remarking the road, and moving cones. This is to be done at night, the entire road is closed diverting the low volume night traffic through Ringwood for the 2-3 hours required for painting and moving of cones. By the time the early rush hour traffic approaches the road is open in the next phase layout.

Since the changes between phases only requires moving cones and repainting lanes, there should be no delays in the road being reopened the next morning.

Although in many phases, each phase is very short (should be no more than a few days) with the exception of phase 3 where the westbound bridge is widened.


It solves the known problem and congestion on this piece of road, and the accident hot spot on the short slip road westbound.

It also does not involve building over the church yard.

It can be built without major disruption to the road.

Environmental Concerns for all proposals.

The majority of the proposal simply widens the existing roads building on the farm land alongside. Most of this is open fields although there are some areas surrounded by trees. Care should be taken to minimise the impact on the environment placing junctions and lay-bys where they will have minimum effect.

The proposed bypass south of Winterborne Zelston and Charborough Park cuts across open fields, its this would divide the land considerably as crossing the dual carriageway either on foot (or by bike or tractor) would be virtually impossible. Bridges can be used to cover bridleways and accesses that cross this route.

There should not be any additional noise pollution caused by this road, rather the current noise pollution is moved away from the villages and into the country side. In any critical areas sound barriers can be used to keep the noise back from local residents.

Dorset is generally regarded as being an area of natural beauty, and allowing the construction of a road through the centre can destroy an element of that beauty. But it also provides the opportunity for the road users to see the views as they travel along.

It has been suggested that improved road links in Dorset may lead to additional development (caused by an overflow from Hampshire). Unless the dual carriageway through the New Forest is significantly upgraded then this is not particularly critical.

Cycle Routes

Another aim is to provide a cycle route that links all of the main villages and towns in the area.

The bypass around Winterborne Zelston and Charborough park means the existing road will hardly used and so can be used as a safe cycle route. At either end of this bypass a cycle route can be built alongside the dual carriageway to link Bere Regis and Wimborne.

The B3073 at Merley already has a cycle lane, this can be extended alongside the proposed Poole Link dual carriageway to connect to Poole.

This would provide a useful cycle link across this entire section of Dorset.

Lay-bys and services

Due to the busy link at Merley roundabout, this would be the best place to concentrate a decent lay-by. This would provide a safe point off of the dual carriageway for all traffic to stop. It should contain public toilets at the very minimum and should look for business to develop a petrol station and take away food kiosks in this area.

Additional lay-bys should be provided along the dual carriageways.


Due to the number of changes in this area, clear signs and directions will be vitally important. Drivers will need to be aware of route changes that may differ from their maps or Satellite navigation systems.

Local towns and villages can be useful for navigation, along with the road names.

The junction at Merley will function in the same way it does now, connecting Poole to the A31, but it will differ as it will also be used more to connect the west to Poole.

The signs on the A31 westbound approaching Merley roundabout would look as follows.

Merley Roundabout

Get in lane

Poole (A341 / A349)


A31 East



This provides easy clear indications of which lane to be in. This reduces drivers performing last minute lane changes on junctions which is potentially dangerous.

Crawler lanes on the A31 through the New Forest

There was twenty years of debate between the protectors of the New Forest and the Government before the A31 was upgraded to a dual carriageway in the 1960’s. The intention was to provide a high volume route through the New Forest to link Dorset with East England.

Fifty years later the dual carriageway is being pushed to the limits by today’s volume of traffic. Although an uninterrupted dual carriageway the road has several hills, bends and at grade junctions.

On this road there are very few flat sections, most of it is either uphill or downhill and in places fairly steep. This means that everyone tries to overtake lorries and other slow moving traffic forcing the vast majority of traffic into the fast lane. This slows down the flow of traffic especially when one lorry overtakes another.

What is needed is an additional crawler lane on the hills.

It is highly unlikely that the protectors of the New Forest would ever let the A31 be widened, but it doesn’t need to be. The central reservation of the A31 is wide enough throughout to add an additional lane. This additional lane would give 3 lanes to one carriageway and 2 lanes to the other (separated by a narrower central reservation). The extra lane is given to whichever carriageway is travelling up hill.

In places there is room for 2 additional lanes in the middle giving both carriageways the opportunity to have 3 lanes each.

This does not require widening the dual carriageways foot print on the New Forest, it simply makes use of the otherwise unusable land in the central reservation.

Major Issues with the Crawler lane proposal

For safety the end of each crawler lane needs a long safety run off to allow traffic on the 3rd lane to merge with traffic on the 2nd lane. This may produce accident spots especially as these would often be placed at the top of hills.

Although not using any additional land, the visual impact of building a road on the central reservation would be extensive. From a birds eye perspective the two narrow carriageways weaving through the forest would be replaced by one very wide road.

The impact of upgrading this section of the A31 may cause additional development in the Dorset area from Hampshire businesses expanding. At the moment the limited capacity of the A31 is a drawback.

During quieter hours this section of road (like most dual carriageways) is subject to very high speed traffic in excess of 80mph, increasing the number of lanes could encourage more drivers to speed along this section of road.

In places at grade junctions use the central reservation.

Police also use the central reservation for mobile speed cameras.

The construction issues involved in building on the central reservation may require closing lanes of the dual carriageway, this is unacceptable and must be avoided.

The effect of upgrading this stretch of road is minimal considering the bottlenecks in Ringwood.

In places the two carriageways do not run at equal height.

Although the majority of the road is present, there is still a huge cost involved in upgrading this road and it is not justifiable at this time compared to the other issues on the A31. But it is fairly straight forward to do and will need to be done in the future.

Olympics 2012 impact on A31

With the current congestion during a Monday morning rush hour there are fears to the congestion possible during the 2012 Olympics. The route from London to Weymouth is very important to the games.

The current effect of an accident on one of these roads can cause queues for several miles in all directions causing villages and towns to reach gridlock.

During the Olympics even with a dual carriageway, it is still likely the congestion in this entire area will still be extreme.

Dorset has a critical deadline of Summer 2012 to sort out a key transport infrastructure in this area. It would be almost impossible to implement all of the schemes proposed in this document. However with very careful planning and management different sections of the road can be given to separate contractors to complete, so that multiple sections of the road are constructed simultaneously by multiple construction companies. These would need to be managed by an independent central manager.

Proposals listed by importance and reasons

  1. The Ringwood / A31 westbound junction
    1. dangerous sliproad
    2. very high volume traffic
    3. congestion and tailbacks caused every evening
  2. The Canford Bottom roundabout fly over
    1. high volume traffic
    2. up to 4 mile tailbacks during rush hour in both directions
    3. tailbacks throughout the day
  1. Extension of the dual carriageway from Ameysford Road roundabout to Merley roundabout at Oakley
    1. traffic to / from Poole leaves / joins at this roundabout
    2. high volume traffic
  1. The A31 bypass around Winterborne Zelston, Charborough Park, Corfe Mullen and the grade junction with the A350
    1. dangerous nature of the A31 and A35 in this area (narrow, twisty passing through villages)
    2. high volume of traffic
    3. additional usage as bypass to section of A35
  1. The dual carriageway either side of the A35 puddletown bypass west to Stinsford roundabout and east to the A31 roundabout
    1. high volume of traffic
    2. tailbacks caused in the summer at the pinch points at either end
    3. queues on the summit of the dual carriageway near Troy Town.
  1. Completion of the A31 dual carriageway from Merley roundabout at Oakley to the B3078 roundabout
    1. currently not desperately needed but may become a pinch point in the future
    2. useful for safely overtaking lorries and other slow moving vehicles
    3. one of the easiest stretches of road in these proposals to upgrade to dual carriageway

Alternatives for funding

Since it is highly unlikely the government would fund this road, (given the time taken for other schemes to be approved) other options can be sought for funding this scheme.

  1. Sponsorship, large businesses sponsor a section of road. In return they can place advertising boards at the side of the road.
  2. Tolls, although not a success on the M6, a toll road may provide a method of funding.
  3. Funding from insurance companies, who would save by reducing the number of accidents on this road.
  4. Or a selection of the above.

More Information on these Proposals

For more information on these proposals, including the original computer drawings for the images enclosed in this document please contact


  1. Google Maps used for Arial views and maps for non profit use.
  2. East Dorset District Council Community Services Committee 3rd April 2002.