THE government has made reassurances that work to upgrade a motorway junction is still on the cards.
The work planned for junction 9 of the M27, near Whiteley, was due to go ahead this year but was put on hold by Highways England over funding problems.
Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery wrote to the Department for Transport last month to stress the importance of these works, which include lane widening, and that they must go ahead as quickly as possible, to alleviate congestion.
He has now received a reply from Andrew Jones MP, the parliamentary under secretary of state at Department for Transport, which reaffirms the government’s commitment to carrying out the upgrade.
He said: ‘Highways England is committed to implementing improvements to junction 9 and has already started clearance, design work and investigation surveys, which are needed before any further work could take place.
‘It will let stakeholders know final timescales as soon as possible and whether further development works will proceed in 2016/17.
‘I hope this reassures your constituents that the matter is being acted upon.’
Although Mr Hollingbery said he would be pursuing the matter further, especially as he has received letters from Whiteley Town Council, which is concerned the situation will get worse with the building of a new 3,500-home estate north of the town.
Mr Hollingbery said: ‘This is a very serious issue that I will be talking to the relevant minister about to try and reach an effective solution.
‘Traffic congestion continues to be a major problem across Hampshire.
‘I will be making the case that junction 9 is a vital component to alleviate problems on the M27.’
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes spoke of her concern at the delay and gave her support to Mr Hollingbery.
She said: ‘This junction has been a problem for far too long, so I share concerns about the delay to this much-needed improvement work.
‘It was very encouraging that the chancellor’s spending review which announced significant extra funding for road improvements, and on that basis I hope we can get this work speeded up.
‘I will raise the issue with transport ministers this week, so I hope we can get things moving faster, literally.’
Highways England said it would look to include the work in the 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.’