DRIVERS are set to face traffic misery as works to rebuild a busy bridge are set to start next month.

The work to demolish and rebuild Romsey Road bridge, will take place over three weekends starting from September 28, when the M27 will be closed in both directions from junction 3 to 5.

Highway bosses said disruption is likely and are urging residents to plan their journey ahead of time.

The diversion routes for motorists who will try to get in and out Southampton and Romsey have not been revealed yet but it is understood that cars and small vehicles will be able to use local routes.

Meanwhile, lorry drivers are set to face a 58 mile diversion, driving up as far as Andover and the A303, out to Salisbury and back round to Southampton.

This will turn a ten minute drive into a two hour long loop of Hampshire.

Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith said a two hour diversion is ludicrous.

And added: "It won’t be long before HGV’s will get lost, end up on unsuitable roads and cause chaos, not to mention the extra costs to hauliers. "Surely this could have been better thought out."

The planned closure will allow Romsey Road bridge, which has cracks in the concrete beams, to be replaced by Highways England.

The first demolition work will take place from September 28 to October 1.

A spokesperson for Southampton City Council said: "The Highways England planned closure of the M27 will have an unavoidable impact on traffic in the city on the weekend of 29 to 30 September and disruption is likely. Plan your journey ahead of time and where possible use public transport. We will be publishing advice and variable message signs throughout the city to notify people in the weeks and days running up to the closure."

Alastair Welch, ABP Southampton Director, said they have been speaking with shipping and cruise lines to ensure that any disruption is well managed.

Gary Whittle, commercial director at Meachers Global Logistics in Southampton said they have started planning journeys ahead of the closure.

And added: "We are looking at other options with clients. It's not the end of the world but it is going to be a significant interruption to the supply chain. It would have been easier and more manageable if we would have had more time. We found out about two or three weeks ago about the extent of the work."

A spokesperson for Highways England said they are finalising leaflets showing diversions which will be available from Rownhams Services soon.

After the first weekend of work this year, the M27 will be closed again from April 26 to 29 and between October 18 and 21, both 2019.