Hampshire County Council says work on a motorway junction to create a gateway to a 6,000 home development will be the largest project it has ever undertaken.
Last year Hampshire County Council agreed to lead an expansion at junction 10 of the M27, as part of the Welborne Garden Village development, although there are fears that the junction will lead to substantially increased traffic on the A32 through the Meon Valley.
The search is on for a contractor and the council plans to commence work in 2023, but the question of cost remains a focal point.
Deputy leader of Hampshire County Council and executive lead member for economy, transport and environment, Councillor Rob Humby, said: “I am really pleased that we are getting this project off the ground.
“This is crucial to bringing forward the Welborne Garden Village development, something we’ve always supported.
“A lot of the background work has already taken place – this is the biggest scheme that Hampshire County Council has ever delivered and like any other project it will have its challenges, but I am hugely confident in our staff and officers to get this right.
“The contractor has to be somebody with experience in schemes like this, because it’s unlike anything we’ve undertaken before.”
Subject to Homes England committing funding, an agreement is in place with the county council, and Councillor Humby says there is a “memorandum of understanding” with National Highways.
This means the highways agency will inform the county council of any works that could impede or impact the junction’s construction.
Currently, the project is estimated to cost the county council £81m – but the council is all too aware of the inflationary pressures on the construction industry.
A cabinet report showed an annual inflation rate of 17 per cent for highways.
Councillor Humby said: “The scheme cost is coming in at around £81m at the moment, but that is obviously subject to change.
“As with any major scheme, this is constantly under review. With the global problems around the supply of materials and the costs going through the roof, we’ll be keeping a very close eye on it all.
“The bottom line is that we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen to the cost, but will monitor it as things progress.”
Photo: Artist’s impression of proposed Junction 10 of the M27