Gravel Hill improvements

Gravel Hill (A349) was closed entirely from Queen Anne Drive to Arrowsmith Road, for 4 months from Sunday 24 July 2016 to Sunday 27th November 2016.

Approximately 27,000 vehicles use Gravel Hill each day so it's vital to keep traffic flowing safely. Over the years the embankment had suffered a few failures. As the main link from the A31 trunk road to the Port of Poole and Poole Town Centre, the town cannot afford for this route to be closed. Not doing these works would have resulted in long term disruption as the embankment would have continued to be vulnerable to ground movements. These would have required unplanned emergency repair works (causing unexpected delays and congestion).

The improvement works, approved at Transportation Advisory Group in March 2016, were designed to:

  • strengthen the embankment
  • introduce reliable journey times
  • reduce congestion around the junctions
  • provide a shared pedestrian/cycle lane

Our main contractor, Mildren Construction, carried out the improvement works to strengthen Gravel Hill embankment and address drainage. This involved:

  • the major earthworks to widen and stabilise the embankment
  • refurbishment of the large culvert (man-made piped structure) which carries Blackwater Stream under the road
  • improvements to the road's surface drainage
  • widening the existing footway to construct the shared pedestrian/cycle lane to provide the missing cycle link connecting Merley to Poole Town Centre

Our in-house team, Street Scene, undertook significant improvements to the Dunyeats Road and Queen Anne Drive junctions to help improve traffic flow and reduce congestion in the area. This involved:

  • at Queen Anne Drive: widening the carriageway, upgrading the signals to provide a toucan crossing (suitable for both pedestrians and cyclists) and introducing a shared footway for pedestrians and cyclists around the junction
  • at Dunyeats Road Junction: introducing toucan crossings; one at the end of Dunyeats Road and one on the north side of the roundabout on Gravel Hill. The roundabout was not signalised (following proposals during engagement) but some work to a length of kerb line was made to help improve access to and from the Crematorium
  • reducing the speed limit between Queen Anne Drive and Arrowsmith Road from 60mph to 40mph to help improve the safety for all road users

Temporary arrangements

While the works progressed, a number of temporary arrangements were introduced to help minimise the disruption. They included:

  • a fully signed diversion route directing traffic via: Darby’s Corner, Canford Heath Road, Ringwood Road, Bear Cross roundabout, Magna Road and Queen Anne Drive
  • maintaining access for Gravel Hill residents, cyclists and pedestrians throughout the entire closure. Access to the cricket ground was also available during programmed cricket training sessions and matches
  • keeping Arrowsmith Road open to local traffic. The existing 7.5 tonne weight limit restriction applied and a temporary 30mph was introduced
  • the introduction of a temporary bus timetable throughout the works for the following bus services: No.3, No.4, No.32 and the 50 school service
  • temporary traffic signals being installed at Magna Road/Arrowsmith Road junction. They ensured this key part of the diversion route did not become blocked by vehicles waiting to turn right into Arrowsmith Road. If the signals are considered to be of benefit to the local community then they could possibly be retained once the project is completed


Working with the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, £3.9 million was successfully secured to deliver this work. The allocated funding was limited to the essential works to ensure the A349 remains a safe and reliable route to the Port of Poole and Poole Town Centre.

Page last updated: 11 June 2019
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