The County Council recognises that there are particular on-going concerns regarding HGVs in parts of Alresford and in particular in the Soke, caused by the narrowness and the curvature of part of this road. In particular, there is concern regarding damage that has been done to some properties on the Soke by large HGVs passing each other on the road.
Further investigation of this problem has revealed that there are a number of HGV movements using the Soke to reach local businesses north of Alresford, which includes a number of large HGVs accessing the Alresford Salads watercress processing plant on Bighton Lane. The Alresford Salad company have said that they would like the County Council to consider their proposed re-routing strategy which would involve HGVs travelling north on the B3046 and avoiding Alresford town and the Soke.
As a result a feasibility study has been commissioned to look at ways to alleviate this problem. The study reviews two elements:
A: Better management of traffic in the Soke
This element of the study involves investigating options for controlling the traffic through the Soke by either using traffic signal control or by installing a vehicle detection system that can be triggered to warn traffic that an HGV is approaching. This would enable traffic to be warned and asked to stop until the HGV passes. Normal two way traffic flow would then resume.
For all options the study will consider the impact this will have on traffic flow especially through the town centre and also the siting of the signal equipment, which is in a conservation area and in a concentrated residential environment. Consideration will also be given to how the traffic flow from the car parks and private accesses can be managed if located between the proposed traffic signals.
B: HGV re-routing options
This part of the study will consider the feasibility of re-routing HGVs accessing Alresford Salads as an alternative to the measures to manage traffic in the Soke. It is understood that some HGVs already avoid The Soke and use an alternative route northwards on the B3046. Northington Parish Council has raised concerns about the increased number of HGV movements through Northington, and they consider that HGVs use more than one route further north to reach the M3. It is therefore proposed that surveys are carried out to find out which routes these HGVs use and to assess these routes for their suitability. This part of the work will require consultation with Alresford Salads to confirm which surveyed HGVs are accessing their site.
In the early summer the results of this study will be presented to interested parties such as the Town Council and Alresford Salads. It is hoped that a preferred option to deal with HGVs in the Soke can be agreed through this further engagement, which can then be taken forward for consideration for funding.
Councillor Seán Woodward
Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment