Hampshire & Isle of Wight

M27 motorway reopens after 55-mile diversion 'gridlock'

Romsey Road Bridge Image copyright Highways England
Image caption The installation of the new 1,000-tonne Romsey Road Bridge closed the M27

A motorway closure which caused some 55 miles of diversions has reopened.

The M27 was closed on Friday evening between junctions 3 and 4 to install a new 1,000-tonne Romsey Road Bridge, near Southampton.

The closure caused the "biggest traffic diversion ever in the country", according to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The motorway was due to remain closed until Monday morning but reopened 36 hours early, at 16:00 BST on Saturday.

Southampton Council had warned motorists "don't use these roads unless you have to" and motorists reported the roads around the port city were "gridlocked".

Traffic problems were further compounded by the arrival of five cruise ships at Southampton, filled with passengers who then added to congestion on the roads.

Highways England said the bridge installation was completed ahead of schedule.

Project manager Andrew Winson said: "I would like to thank everyone involved... for their patience on what is the hottest day of the year so far."

The bridge was built off-site and lifted into place from the carriageway by remote-controlled lorries.

Another weekend closure will take place at the end of the year to demolish part of the old bridge.

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