Work has started on significant improvements to the Castleman Trailway between Ashley Heath and West Moors by Dorset Council.
The work will improve drainage, widen the path by removing a central ‘bund’, provide more accessible access points and install a higher quality stone surface.
The trail is a popular local leisure route used by walkers, cyclists and horseriders, but the surface quality has deteriorated and becomes extremely muddy after wet weather, reducing year-round access.
A ‘bund’ left following utility works currently narrows the path and exacerbates the poor drainage of the area, and A-frame barriers restrict access on to the trail for mobility vehicles and bicycles.
Cllr Ray Bryan, Portfolio Holder for Highways, Travel and Environment, said: “By improving the surface quality and access arrangements onto the trail we’ll be able to open up this valuable community route to a wider range of users, such as powered wheelchairs and push chairs, as well as continuing to be safe for all users.
“We’ll need to close sections of the trail for the work to be carried out safely, and we appreciate the inconvenience this will cause. However, we’ve programmed the work for the quietest time of year and, I’m sure residents will agree, that this extensive maintenance greatly outweighs the short-term disruption.”
The council’s contractor is now carrying out the much-needed maintenance, starting with the removal of the central ‘bund’ between the Holly Grove access point and Horton Road this week.
For safety reasons the trailway will need to be closed in the works area. The work will be starting at the eastern end of the route at Verwood Road and progress westward, with sections reopening when work is finished.
Towards the end of the scheme the route will need to be entirely closed for the new higher-quality stone to be laid along its length.
The alteration of access barriers will provide easier access for disabled users while continuing to restrict motor vehicle access. In some cases, bollards will be able to be lowered to allow emergency vehicle and maintenance vehicle access.
The project is being funded by the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund, with the work scheduled to finish in early March.