THOUSANDS of drivers are bracing themselves for months of traffic changes and diversions from a multi-million pound project to replace a bridge over the M27.

With plans discussed two years ago, Highways England have said that the motorway will be closed for multiple weekends over the summer months, and the £19 million project will run until October 2019.

Romsey Road bridge, which hangs over the motorway, was built in the 1970s and links Southampton to Romsey through Nursling. The bridge itself will have access maintained throughout the works, except for the weekends in the summer when it has to close fully, along with the M27, in order to build the new bridge.

Nursling and Rownhams councillor Nigel Anderdon said he thought the main issues would be for those living close to the M271, rather than Nursling itself. Construction works to knock down the current bridge will begin in spring.

A weight limit of 26 tonnes has been in place along Romsey Road between the golf club and Paulette Lacave Avenue since 2016. Design developments have been undertaken and funding agreements are currently underway.

Highways England said: “The M27 is a key strategic route which runs between Southampton and Portsmouth.

“The M27 is heavily congested at peak times all the way between Southampton and Portsmouth. The aims of this scheme are to replace the degrading structure with minimal disruption to road users, improve safety for our customers and to re-establish a key transport link and remove the temporary weight restriction.”

Bosses say that access across the bridge will be maintained during the scheme, except during selected weekends, when both the bridge and the M27 underneath will be closed to drivers. The dates and total number of weekends that the roads will be closed for is unknown.

Test Valley borough councillor for Chilworth, Nursling and Rownhams, Nigel Anderdon, said he wasn’t worried about the changes.

Cllr Anderdon said: “There will be traffic lights, which will be tedious, but I think drivers through Nursling won’t be affected too much as one side of the bridge will be open at most times. I would think the biggest problem would be for the big lorries and other drivers from Southampton that have to use the M271 for diversions. I would think the impact on Romsey would also mean slow traffic.”

Preparation works for the project will begin later this month, with construction works starting in spring.

Public information events will be held at Nursling and Rownhams Village Hall on February 16 from 2pm until 7pm, and February 17 from 10am until 2pm.