THE start of work to install a gate prior to a permanent traffic ban at a notorious ford has been delayed until this month (November)and will last into the new year.
Thornford Road, which leads to Headley Ford, was set to close for works by Hampshire County Council earlier last month (Oct)
Four years ago, judge Jonathan Gammon from Middlesex was drowned in flash floods at the ford, after following satnav instructions.
Six months later, following an inquest into Mr Gammon’s death, the ford was closed, and remained shut to traffic – except for local access – following a prohibition of driving order made on December 16, 2014.
However drivers have regularly flouted the ban, resulting in many vehicles becoming stranded in the ford, which traverses the River Enborne, where waters can rise rapidly.
The county council had been due to start work last month (Oct) on tougher preventative measures at the ford, including a gate.
However, the council has confirmed that this work had been postponed.
On the reason for the delay, Rob Humby, the county council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “While we had hoped to begin works in October, some last details needed to be finalised and I can confirm that works will start at the beginning of November.”
The scheme involves a closure of the ford to all vehicles except those involved in forestry or agricultural work, and ‘except for tractor’ signs will be erected.
Work involves laying a different road surface, a self-closing gate and signs.
The scheme will be implemented in two parts.
Firstly the signs, lines, and road surface, together with the gate, to be locked in an open position until work is completed, will be installed, followed by environmental survey work.
The second phase – expected to start in the new year – will involve building the turning heads and once these are installed, the gate will be closed.
The gate will not be locked, to ensure access for pedestrians and horse riders is maintained, but will be self-closing.
The legal order follows a public consultation by the county council, which ended on September 12.
The temporary road closure, prohibiting all traffic, will affect a 1,350m stretch of Thornford Road at entry points at both sides of the ford.
On the Hampshire side, the road will be closed from the Ashford Hill Road/Thornford Road junction. On the Berkshire side, it will start at the junction of Thornford Road with the ford.