Drivers trying to travel the short distance between Swanage and Langton Matravers in Dorset are now facing a 20 minute diversion, as work begins to replace an ageing water main which has already burst several times.
But the £150,000 scheme on Coombe Hill which is expected to take eight weeks to complete, has already caused confusion in the village.
Teams of workers from Wessex Water have begun a major replacement programme on the B3069
Dozens of cars forced to turn around
Within hours of the closure coming into effect on Monday 8th January 2024, dozens of cars found their route blocked on the B3069, some of them trying to reach properties in Steppes only 200 metres from the start of the roadworks.
With Crack Lane and Haycrafts Lane being signposted as access only, the drivers who were forced to turn around faced a seven mile detour back to Valley Road and along the A351 almost to the boundary of Corfe Castle.
The official detour then takes traffic on the B3069 to the Scott Arms at the top of Kingston Hill, then following the B3069 on to West Street, Kingston, for another couple of miles into the western entrance to Langton Matravers to complete a circular route.
The road closure has been set up on the eastern approach from Swanage just beyond Three Acre Lane
The rolling road works will make their way west to the entrance to Putlake Adventure Farm
“It will cause us some inconvenience”
One driver, who was visiting family in Steppes Hill, said the detour had caused her a 20 minute delay and expected to make the journey less often until the roadworks were completed.
A delivery driver also complained about the added time taken, although villagers in Langton were more circumspect about the delays.
One resident said:
“It will cause some inconvenience although many of us walk most places, especially the families of primary school children. But those who work will just have to set off earlier for the next two months.
“The poor water quality has been noticeable over the past few years – we have lost water pressure several times and the water has run brown a few times, so the work is badly needed.
“Although the Breezer bus can’t use Langton at the moment, I have already seen a free minibus which is taking villagers to connect with the Breezer at Corfe Castle.
“I’m just hoping that the bins are collected on time and that supermarkets will continue to make deliveries despite the diversions – otherwise it is what it is, and we will have to put up with a little disruption for a much better water service.”
Three Acre Lane has been made one way only, while Crack Lane and Haycrafts Lane are for access only
Warning signs of resident access only are hoped to keep traffic problems to a minimum in Langton
Work will reduce the risk of flooding to homes
Wessex Water will be carrying out a rolling road closure in stages through Langton Matravers along the B3069, to install new plastic pipes, with completion expected by Friday 8th March, 2024.
Work has begun at Serrells Mead and will continue to the entrance of Putlake Adventure Farm near Steppes, with a three-way traffic light system at both ends of the new water main on the last day to complete connections.
A Wessex Water spokesperson said:
“The current main is deteriorating, leading to a significant number of bursts and water discolouration and has caused inconvenience and disruption to customers in the area.
“Wessex Water is investing nearly £150,000 to install new plastic pipes, ensuring improved water quality and a more reliable source for years to come.
“We will also be relocating another small section of water main to significantly reduce the risk of flooding affecting properties within the vicinity.
“This is a major investment towards improving the quality of water supply throughout Langton Matravers by replacing an ageing main. We do apologise for any inconvenience caused by this essential project.”
An official diversion has been signposted along the A351 and the B3069 through Kingston
Road closure signs along the B3069 warn that access is for residents only
Emergency services will always have access
The Wessex Water spokesperson added:
“There are a number of other utilities present within the road, meaning we are unable to lay the main to one side. The full road closure is necessary to ensure the safety of the public and our work force.
“As the B3069 is the main road through the village, we recognise the inconvenience this scheme will cause the local community, for which we apologise. We have worked closely with Dorset Council to agree a planned diversion route for traffic.
“Dorset Council will be contacting their waste and recycling collection services with full details of the closures to ensure they can plan ahead.
“Emergency services will always have access and will be informed of our closure, allowing them to plan accordingly.”
A free minibus shuttle service is running through Langston and Kingston to link up with the Morebus Breezer 40 at Corfe Castle
Free shuttle bus to keep villagers connected
Wessex Water has contributed towards the cost of a shuttle bus to keep villagers connected with the main Morebus route, and has also worked with St George’s C of E Primary School to provide a safe area for pupils to be dropped off and collected in the mornings and afternoons while the work is taking place.
The Morebus Breezer 40 bus route which runs between Swanage and Poole will not be able to serve either Langton Matravers or Kingston until at least Saturday 17th February 2024 and will be diverting via Harmans Cross instead.
A free shuttle minibus service, starting at Steppes Hill and finishing at East Street in Corfe Castle will connect villagers to most Breezer 40 journeys and run every day of the week.
Full timetable information is available on the Morebus website and buses can be tracked using the company’s app, with service updates running on its social media pages.