A MULTI-MILLION pound project will reduce bottlenecks on one of Hampshire’s busiest motorways junctions, but thousands of motorists will face months of delays while work is carried out.

The Highways Agency says adding extra lanes to the approaches of Junction 3 of the M27 and the M271 could take eight months.

Business leaders and council bosses have welcomed the £2.3m project, which they claim will reduce congestion and bring benefits to the local economy.

Meanwhile, the 96,000 motorists who use the junction every day will face traffic misery from this July until the end of March, 2015.

The Highways Agency is urging drivers to avoid using this junction during the work, part of the Government’s £300m motorway “pinch point” programme.

Improvements include:

 - Widening the slip road off the westbound carriageway of the M27 from two lanes to three;

- Widening the M271 southbound from Romsey to include a third lane;

- Widening the M271 northbound from Southampton to include a third lane from 200m from the traffic lights;

- Replacing the hard shoulder on eastern side of the roundabout heading south from Romsey with a third lane;

 - Installing traffic lights on sections of the roundabout which don’t already have them.

Philip Sheppard, Highways Agency asset manager, said: “The improvements will help to reduce congestion for each journey that is made on it every day.

“They will also help support growth in the Solent economy, underpinning the creation of jobs at the Adanac Park development, as well as trade growth at Southampton Docks.

“In particular, adding a lane to the westbound exit slip road of the M27 will reduce delays for drivers by up to two minutes.”

He said work, some of which would take place at night, would be carefully planned to minimise disruption.

Hampshire Chamber of Commerce said improved access to Southampton would be necessary after the planned development of Adanac Park, which sits alongside the M271, is completed.

Earlier this year, landowners, Barker-Mill Estates, announced plans to create 47,000sq m of business space, spread over four plots, in the park.

The project will include redevelopment of Yew Tree Farm, plus the creation of 49 homes and an 80-bedroom care home. The estate claims the developments will bring 3,600 new jobs to the area.

Work has already begun on a new 43,000sq m Lidl regional distribution centre at Adanac Park which will create 400 jobs before the end of 2014.

Chairman of the chamber’s planning and transportation committee, Mark Miller, said: “It is a very congested area at peak hours and this affects the freight movements in and out of Southampton and the port traffic, as well as general commuters, so we welcome the proposed improvements. We think they will improve access and reliability of traffic levels into Southampton as well as Romsey.”

Hampshire County Council leader and Romsey Extra Councillor, Roy Perry, said: “Of course, the roadworks will cause issues, but it is a problem that needs solving and when it is done, it will have benefits.

“It will bring benefits to traffic coming from the east towards Southampton and Romsey and also benefits for traffic coming from Romsey wanting to get onto the motorway.

“The M3 and M271 are the export gateway from the Midlands to the Port of Southampton, however, junction three is also a major part of that route.

“I think I would certainly say that the sooner we get it, the better. Junction 3 on the M27 is an important junction. It should make improvements to the economic development of the area.

“I only see this as one step to the improvements. I think there needs to be further improvements in the future to keep up with future demands on the junction