ANDOVER is expected to see an influx of lorries as a 58-mile diversion is set to be put in place while multi-million-pounds roadworks go ahead.

The M27 is to close over the weekend of September 28 as a scheme to replace Romsey Road bridge gets under way.

The diversion is currently listed to direct traffic to Andover, the A303, out to Salisbury and back round to Southampton.

Romsey Road bridge, which travels over the motorway, was built in the 1970s and links Southampton to Romsey through Nursling.

Highways England route sponsor John Henderson said: “Our work to replace the Romsey Road bridge is a vital part of our work to ensure that the bridges on England’s major roads remain operating safely and reliably for the millions of people who depend on them every day.

“This is the best, safest way to complete the work and minimise overall disruption.

“Completing these key phases of work at the weekend means that restrictions can be kept to a minimum at other, busier times and we have chosen diversions that are the most suitable for the type and volume of traffic that usually uses the M27.”

But with the listed diversion route taking 58 miles to complete for heavy goods vehicles, councillors say it is likely that those with local knowledge will cut through smaller roads to avoid the lengthy alternative.

Test Valley Borough Council deputy leader Councillor Nick Adams-King said work from the authority’s side was being done.

He said: “While the Highways Agency diversions are sending motorists via Salisbury and the A303, it’s clear to me anyone with local knowledge, or using Sat Nav diverts, will use the alternative routes across southern Test Valley.

“Local routes are therefore likely to be extremely busy. We are therefore recommending Test Valley residents plan ahead if they are travelling, even locally, on those weekends.

“We’re reinforcing this on social media throughout the run up to each of the weekends.”

The scheme, which totals £19 million, will see the closure in place for two further weekends until the project is completed in October next year.