HELP is being sought from the government after much-needed improvement work to a busy motorway junction has been delayed.
Works to widen lanes at Junction 9 of the M27 at Park Gate have been put on hold by Highways England due to funding problems.
Work was re-prioritised when the Highways Agency, a government agency, became Highways England, a government-owned company, in April.
Now Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery has written to the Department for Transport after he was approached by Whiteley Town Council, calling for the government to take up the matter.
He said: ‘The town council is very concerned that planned improvements to the junction, which were intended to coincide with the construction of several thousand houses in the area, have been delayed for at least two years for funding reasons. The town council feel that without these improvements congestion in the area will become intolerable. They also believe there will be a damaging impact on both residents and the large retail park Whiteley Shopping Centre.’
Mr Hollingbery has requested a meeting on the matter and for the government to see ‘if anything can be done to speed up the planned works.’
Councillor Seán Woodward, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for economy, transport and environment, said the works were ‘a critical part of the infrastructure for the growing Solent region.’
He said: ‘The improvements are critical and should have been well on the way to completion by now yet is seems they may start in 2016/2017 if we are lucky.
‘This is yet another reason why our devolution bid to government includes taking over the responsibilities for running our motorways from Highways England so that they are run with a view to the needs of the local economy.’
Cllr Woodward has been pressing Highways England on the matter and received a letter from Neil Andrew, from Highways England, which said the company was ‘committed to delivering the improvements as demonstrated by the site clearance works that have been undertaken during this financial year and previous expenditure surveys.’
Mr Andrew said they would be looking to include the work in 2016/17 budget and that this year’s cash had been spent on ‘safety critical improvements, essential maintenance and establishing the significant portfolio of major improvements that will be delivered over the next five to 10 years.’