SOUTH East Water began work on Monday on a £1.4m scheme to lay 3,000 metres of new water main along the A339 as it cuts across the south-west end of the town.
Needed to secure water supplies for an increasing population, the project was due to start on January 23 but was put on hold while South East Water met with representatives from Alton Town Council and Hampshire County Council’s highways department to try to minimise disruption for residents and, in particular, to ensure that work in The Butts area will be completed in time for the town’s summer events programme, especially Jane Austen Regency Week in June.
Following these discussions, it was decided to reverse the order of work, due to begin from the A339 junction with the B3349 Odiham Road, and to start instead from the Selborne Road, which will be subject to a lane closure.
During the first couple of days contractors were expected to carry out enabling works such as creating a site compound before work begins on the laying of the new pipe. The project team will then work their way backwards, compared to the original programme of works, moving toward Butts Road, The Butts and Whitedown Lane.
Forming part of the company’s £424m investment programme between 2015 and 2020, the new pipeline will ensure South East Water can continue to maintain water pressure to the town and also secure water supplies in Alton for the future by providing more flexibility in moving water around the network of underground pipes.
Stephen Bundock, South East Water’s project manager, said: “I would like to apologise for the change to our programme for our work in Alton but hope local residents and motorists appreciate the extra steps we have taken to try to minimise disruption further.
“After hearing about the events that are planned in the town this spring and summer, we agreed that it would be best to start our work in Selborne Road and work our way back toward Whitedown Lane. This means we should have completed our work around The Butts before key events planned for the summer.”
He continued: “We know roadworks can be frustrating to motorists and the local community which is why we have been working hard to minimise disruption. Our number one priority is keeping the public and our workforce safe, so our work along Selborne Road will be carried out under a temporary lane closure and we will need to have traffic lights in place along Whitedown Lane and Butts Road when we reach these sections.
“To keep residents safe, when we lay the new pipe around The Butts we will also need to temporarily close this (cul-de-sac) section of road (not Butts Road).”
Access to properties and businesses will be maintained at all times.
The highways section of the project is expected to take around 28 weeks to complete before work takes place within private fields, to link the pipeline on the Selborne Road to the Windmill Hill reservoir.