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    Hampshire County Council is moving forward with a project to replace the old Holmsley Rail Bridge, which carries the A35, a major route through the New Forest.

    A new bridge will be built alongside the existing one, and then traffic transferred over. The old steel bridge will then be removed. The project also includes the re-alignment of approximately 380 metres of the A35.

    Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment for Hampshire County Council said: “I am pleased that we have appointed Knights Brown as our contractor to carry out the Holmsley Rail Bridge replacement scheme which will start later this summer.

    “We’ve been monitoring this bridge since it became the council’s responsibility in 2012 to ensure it could continue to be used by all traffic. The bridge, which was built in 1908, has now deteriorated to the point that replacement is the only viable option. Last summer the speed limit was reduced, we installed temporary barriers, and added additional steel supports under the bridge.”

    The new single span integral concrete bridge will minimise maintenance costs, while the improvements to the A35 will include enhanced drainage in the area and ensure safer travel on this key route through the New Forest.

    The council has been working closely and extensively with the New Forest National Park Authority, Verderers, Natural England and Forestry England throughout to make sure this this scheme is carried out sensitively in this unique part of Hampshire.

    Local councillors, nearby residents, and local businesses have been contacted as part of the scheme development and this will continue during the construction phases.

    Preliminary works will continue between now and the start of the main works on site, which are scheduled to start in August.

    Every effort will be made to minimise disruption and signed diversion routes will be in place.

    At the boundary between the A35 and private property, an acoustic fence will be installed towards the end of March and trial holes will be excavated in April/May 2021 to identify where key utilities are, such as gas, water and electric mains as well as key telecoms cables. The acoustic fence will be installed from Monday 22 March until Friday 26 March with one lane of the A35 being closed and temporary traffic lights in place.

    Holmsley Rail Bridge is one of a number of redundant railway structures in Hampshire previously owned by British Rail Board (Residuary) Ltd. It was originally opened in 1847 and replaced in 1908. The railway was closed in 1964 and the track was replaced with the C10 Station Road in the 1970s. The bridge was eventually transferred to Hampshire County Council in 2012.

    Due to the age of the bridge and its form of construction, its general condition has been steadily deteriorating over the years, primarily due to corrosion of the steel plates and rivets. The council has continually assessed the structure, to ensure that it can continue to support the required traffic loadings, despite its deteriorating condition. In August 2018 props were installed in some areas under the bridge to keep it functional until it could be replaced.

    For more information visit Hampshire County Council’s website.