A MAJOR safety concern has been addressed under a revised scheme to upgrade the bottleneck junction 9 of the M3.

Highways England has launched another consultation on plans to alter junction 9 at Winnall, giving the public the chance to have their say on changes to the design.

Residents and motorists raised concerns during a previous consultation in 2019 about having to cross three lanes of speeding traffic in order to get onto the A33 from the northbound A34.

The agency said it would address the issue and it has now altered the approach to the A33 to Kings Worthy.

Drivers from both the northbound and southbound exits of the M3 will head onto the new roundabout before joining the A33. The stretch of road will pass beneath the A34 northbound through a new underpass and above the A34 southbound as it drops down to pass beneath the M3 via another new underpass.

A spokesperson said: “The existing merge and diverge to the A33 from and to the A34 is removed in the improved scheme.”

Highways England senior project manager Jon Roose said: “Our new plans for the M3 at junction 9 will increase capacity, help reduce journey times and improve safety. We have taken people’s feedback from our previous consultation into account when designing these improvements.”

Due to Covid restrictions, the agency is carrying out online webinars to allow the public to hear about the scheme and ask questions to the project team.

Those who attended the latest webinar heard about how drivers will use the junction depending on their destination.

There will be a new “free flowing link” from the northbound M3 onto the A34 via a two-lane slip road for drivers who want to go north towards Newbury. For drivers travelling southbound there will be a new underpass which will then take traffic under the M3.

Tim Allen, design lead for Stantec, said: “If you wish to head south you will stay on this road and join the M3 by the designated slip road, if your designation is the Spitfire Link or Winchester you will leave the A34 after the underpass and head up to the new roundabout.”

The existing bridges over the motorway will be demolished and replaced with two new bridges with wider spans to accommodate the additional lanes underneath, this in effect will make the roundabout smaller.

The scheme is planned to include improved cycling and walking routes, with one path in particular causing concern for residents and councillors.

Highways England has said that a walking route will link Kings Worthy to the Winnall Trading Estate which will utilise the old A33 and a new bridge over the River Itchen and a new underpass under the A34 northbound.

The agency has been asked to consider turning this route into a foot and cycle path.

Cllr Steve Cramoysan said: “That path should be designated as both a foot and cycle path and built accordingly. The marginal costs will be trivial compared to cost of scheme. There are also two better options for routing that path which is currently proposed to run between the north and south lanes of the A34.”

Mr Roose said: “The scheme we are representing at the moment is what we know we can deliver and hence there is a footpath which is a significant improvement over the current provision.”

He said that a number of people have asked for the cycle path and it is “on the agenda” to be looked into.