PLANS to turn a major road between Basingstoke and Reading into a dual-carriageway have been revealed.

It is part of a study to improve connections between the M4 and M3 and could also see a train station built in Chineham.

The A33 is currently a dual-carriageway through Chineham and between Reading and Riseley, but for the rest of the distance it is single-carriageway and a notorious bottleneck.

In 2002, it was named one of the most dangerous roads in Britain.

Now, it has been revealed that Hampshire County Council are, along with authorities in Reading, Wokingham and West Berkshire, assessing the potential to turn the road into a dual carriageway to increase the connectivity between the M3 and M4.

Network Rail and Great Western Railway are also part of the consultation to improve rail connections along the corridor, which could see a long-awaited station built in Chineham.

According to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council's cabinet member for planning, infrastructure and the natural environment, Cllr Mark Ruffell, the plans are to turn the road into a national strategic route.

But he said that the scheme "wouldn't actually benefit Basingstoke".

It comes after the borough's deputy mayor, Cllr Onnalee Cubitt, said that the plans would "damage" Basingstoke's business parks. She cited experts who told a committee meeting previously that the plans would "render Basingstoke a dormitory town for Reading's businesses".

But Cllr Ruffell replied: "The assumption is that our economy would be damaged by having better transport links to Reading. I disagree.

"It was set up to explore the links between the M4 and M3. That is something that is hard to criticise.

"When you are looking at other authorities, you've got gridlock in most directions from Wokingham. It is not a surprise they are coming up with these ideas," he said, adding that currently the route to the M3 from Wokingham took motorists through heavily-congested Bracknell.

"It would have been wrong for us to have ignored it and not had a seat at the table."

Councillors had attended a briefing from HCC on the proposals, in which Cllr Ruffell said a lot of views had been expressed, adding: "Any proposal to straighten the route or make it more direct, we made it abundantly clear it would be highly controversial and met with substantial protest."

According to the portfolio holder, there are benefits to the slower speed on that road, which averages at 40 miles per hour, namely that there are a number of schools and housing estates alongside the route.

But, he said that plans to develop a new station in Chineham, and to reopen the station on the other side of the town in Oakley, "were gaining traction".

"It may well be that that is the area where improved transport needs to be focused, rather than improving what would become a national strategic route and has no benefit to the local population.

"We made it clear that dualling the A33 would only result in more traffic travelling through Basingstoke, and it wouldn't actually benefit Basingstoke."

The proposals have been considered before.

The Gazette's sister publication The Daily Echo reported in 2004 that HCC were looking at plans to dual the road when it announced its new local travel plan.