THE public are backing multi-million pound plans to upgrade the bottleneck junction nine of the M3.

The Highways Agency is proposing to alter the junction at Winnall where the M3 meets the A34 and A33, used by 110,000 drivers a day.

Work is due to start in 2021.

The agency says 96 per cent of people who responded to the consultation backed the need for the improvements to this junction.

Under the changes free flow lanes will allow drivers travelling between the M3 and the A34 to avoid using the junction roundabout.

The roundabout itself will be rebuilt for the additional lanes to run through it, increasing capacity and making it easier for traffic to interchange between the M3 and the A34. This will reduce queuing and make journey times more reliable.

The agency said it will address safety concerns over travelling accessing the A33 northbound.

Project manager Simon Hewett said: “More than 110,000 vehicles use this busy junction each day to interchange with the A34 and routes into Winchester, often more than 6,000 each hour during peak times. Regular road users know that often becomes congested, with queues backing up onto the main carriageway.

“The upgrade to M3 junction 9 will create new dedicated link roads to separate out local and long distance traffic. Through traffic will not have to stop at the roundabout, freeing it up for local traffic and commuters. We are improving access for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians, with the upgrade including a new 4m side cycle path with a new footpath next to the cycleway to the River Itchen.

“We are aware of people’s concerns about traffic merging between the A34 and A33; this was the most common point raised during the consultation period and we are reviewing a number of options to address this.”

It will help to allay the bottleneck which has developed since the removed of Hockley traffic lights on the Winchester bypass in the early 1990s.