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|North-east end||City of London|
| A200 road|
|South-west end||Portsmouth Harbour|
|Kingston upon Thames|
The A3, known as the Portsmouth Road or London Road in sections, is a major road connecting London and Portsmouth passing close to Kingston upon Thames, Guildford, Haslemere and Petersfield. For much of its 67-mile (108 km) length, it is classified as a trunk road and therefore managed by Highways England. Almost all of the road has been built to dual carriageway standards or wider. Apart from bypass sections in London, the road travels in a southwest direction and, after Liss, south-southwest.
Close to its southerly end, motorway traffic is routed via the A3(M), then either the east-west A27 or the Portsmouth-only M275 which has multiple lanes leading off the westbound A27 — for non-motorway traffic, the A3 continues into Portsmouth alongside the A3(M), mostly as a single carriageway in each direction through Waterlooville and adjoining small towns. The other section of single carriageways is through the urban environs of Battersea, Clapham and Stockwell towards the northern end, which has to accommodate bus lanes and parking meter bays.
By the 17th century, the historic Portsmouth Road bore great strategic significance as the road link between the capital city and what became the settled main port of the Royal Navy, as well as a non-military port like nearby Chichester — a petition was passed by Her Majesty for the expansion of the bench of justices of the town of Guildford along its route, in consideration of the importance of the Portsmouth Road, in 1603. Many of the other towns and villages that the road passed through gained income and, in the case of towns, a market advantage as a result — principally in the history of Kingston upon Thames, Godalming and Petersfield. The modern A3 follows the general route of the Portsmouth Road, but it bypasses many of the towns and villages along the way, leaving the various stretches of the old route for local traffic — for instance, the A307, its original course through Kingston-upon-Thames and Esher, retains its name, Portsmouth Road.
A programme of road improvements, starting in the 1920s, transformed the road, so that it is now predominantly a two or three lane carriageway, bypassing the town centres; south of the South Downs National Park, it includes a section of motorway, the A3(M), just before the road reaches the A27 at Havant. The construction of the Kingston and Guildford bypasses in the 1920s and 1930s made use of temporary narrow gauge railways to move the construction materials. The Esher bypass, between Hook from the first mentioned bypass to the M25, is three lanes with a motorway-standard hard shoulder; from there to Guildford the road has three lanes.
Lord Montagu of Beaulieu stressed the urgency of building a Kingston By-pass in 1911, but public funds were not secured before the onset of World War I and were not available in the aftermath. By the early 1920s, traffic in Kingston town centre had increased by over 160% in 10 years in the coaching town and the decision was taken in 1923 to revive the plans, with the contract worth £503,000 (equivalent to £26,300,000 in 2016). Work started in 1924, and it was opened by the Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Stanley Baldwin MP, on 28 October 1927. It ran for 8.5 miles (13.7 km) from the Robin Hood Gate of Richmond Park near to the outskirts of Esher. The opening ceremony concluded with refreshments for 800 guests in marquees near to the northern start/end. Its construction immediately attracted developments of housing where access was easiest. The Restriction of Ribbon Development Act 1935 came too late to prevent this private housing, which is apparent where the A3 winds through Tolworth and New Malden, where the architecture includes concrete to art nouveau apartments[n 1], Mock-Tudor gabled houses and gabled Arts and Crafts movement-inspired houses.
The road was once the haunt of highwaymen such as Jerry Abershawe, who terrorised the area around Kingston and led a gang based at the Bald Faced Stag Inn on the Portsmouth Road. Another particularly dangerous location was in the vicinity of the wooded crest skirting the Devil's Punch Bowl, Hindhead, about 8 miles (13 km) south-west of Guildford.
In 2011, the Hindhead Tunnel became the centrepiece of the Hindhead Bypass, away from the winding road of the small town, where the only urban set of traffic lights on the route outside London had created a bottleneck. Until 2011, the road through Hindhead was the last single carriageway section of the route, outside London and Portsmouth.
The road follows a route roughly parallel to the Portsmouth Direct Line railway which goes through, rather than past, all of the towns which the road serves, with Havant and Woking 2 miles (3.2 km) and 3 miles (4.8 km), respectively, off the road.
The A3 starts at King William Street at its junction with Gracechurch Street in the City of London, crosses London Bridge while entering the London Borough of Southwark, and goes south-west along Borough High Street and Newington Causeway to the Elephant and Castle roundabout. It continues along Newington Butts, and bounds then enters the London Borough of Lambeth on Kennington Park Road which becomes Clapham Road and Clapham High Street. The A3 then turns west (leaving as its straight continuation the A24) as Clapham Common North Side. Along this road, it enters the London Borough of Wandsworth, after which it runs concurrently with the A205 'South Circular' along Battersea Rise, Wandsworth Common North Side and East Hill, and goes through Wandsworth, and then the A205 carries on west towards Richmond. On West Hill, just east of the Tibbets Corner junction with the A219 near Putney Heath, the road increases from one lane each way to a three-lanes-each-way dual-carriageway and the speed limit increases from 30 mph (48 km/h) to 40 mph (64 km/h). The A3 then continues south-west between Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common, as Kingston Road before beginning to bypass Kingston upon Thames while going through Roehampton Vale. The A3 enters The Royal Borough of Kingston Upon Thames just before Kingston Vale where there is a junction with the A308 for Kingston upon Thames and Richmond Park. The speed limit then increases to 50 mph (80 km/h) before going under the Coombe Flyover. The A3 then goes on a flyover by Shannon Corner in Raynes Park, before having junctions for New Malden, Tolworth and Hook along the Kingston By-pass.
Brief features of a section of road contribute to a traffic pinch-point during peak hours around the Hook underpass. The road reduces from three lanes to two in the underpass. The speed limit at this point reduces from 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) to 50 miles per hour (80 km/h), with the first of a handful of GATSO speed enforcement cameras. If returning to London, traffic from the A309 also joins just before the underpass.[n 2]
The A3's Kingston By-pass now ends sooner leaving a spur junction the A309 to the Scilly Isles junction near Sandown Park, Esher, its route instead becoming the Esher By-pass on the border of Hook, London and Long Ditton, Surrey.
After passing Claygate, the motorway-standard section has junctions with the A244 between Esher and Oxshott, then the A245 between Cobham and Hersham.[n 3] The road's Wisley Interchange with the M25 enables a flyover still with a 70 mph (112 km/h) speed limit.[n 4] It bypasses Wisley, Ockham, Ripley (and Burpham which is a suburb of Guildford) before cutting through the major town itself as a dual carriageway and changing to a 50 mph (80 km/h) speed limit. It returns to 70 mph (112 km/h) at the A31 and A246 junction before bypassing Godalming and Milford. It continues through a tunnel at Hindhead (constructed in 2011 to improve capacity and bypass the Devil's Punch Bowl) before leaving Surrey.
The A3 enters Hampshire just after exiting the Hindhead Tunnel, passes Liphook and Bramshott, turns SSW past Liss, then passes Petersfield. The A3's original route between Hindhead and Petersfield, passing through several villages, became the B2070. At Liss, there remains an at-grade roundabout, the only such junction on the route. Over the South Downs, it passes Clanfield and Horndean. From just north of Horndean, (still heading towards Portsmouth) the A3 separates from the A3(M) (below) and continues as London Road as far as Hilsea, south of which it is Northern Parade[n 5]. It runs along the west side of Portsea Island which forms Portsmouth proper, roughly parallel with the M275, into the nearly waterfront centre of the city where, after passing the Catholic cathedral, it meets with the A2030. Here, it reaches Old Portsmouth, passing the Anglican cathedral and the 15th century harbour where it comes to an end at Portsmouth Point.
The Hindhead Tunnel is a 1,830-metre (1.14 mi) twin bore tunnel, which cost £371 million to construct, and is the longest non-estuarial road tunnel in the UK. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond conducted the opening ceremony on 27 July 2011, though the northbound tunnel opened to traffic two days later than the southbound one, on 29 July.
The new dual carriageway diverges from the original route where the old A3 began climbing sharply as it headed towards the scenic Devil's Punch Bowl. The old road now turns right and continues into Highfield Lane. From there, the remainder of the original road to Punch Bowl Common - a short distance north-east of the Hindhead traffic lights - has been completely ripped up and returned to nature. From the south, the short and largely built-up southern stretch of old A3 (now bypassed) runs up from the Grayshott exit into Hindhead and remains in use, but has been renumbered from A3 to A333.
Since the 2013 opening of the Hindhead Tunnel, the modern route (or, in the case of the southernmost section, its associated motorway section) is at least dual-carriageway, but at Liss is the sole at-grade roundabout. Widely considered the main traffic pinch-point and an accident hotspot (due to its unusual egg-shape and camber angle which can cause lorries at excess speed to tip over), there have been wide calls for its removal, the projected increase in traffic with the completion of the tunnel supporting the proposal. In November 2010, the Highways Agency announced it would discuss three options for the roundabout's future, but in December it announced that none would be commenced before 2015.:
The slip road exiting the A3 leading to the Royal Surrey County Hospital and the Surrey Research Park regularly creates congestion on the main A3 during peak times, when the traffic queue reaches onto the main carriageway. In May 2011, it was announced that this is to be resolved with new improvements to the traffic system directly adjacent to the A3, with work funded jointly by the University of Surrey and Surrey County Council.
Various schemes exist to manage urban traffic and economise land use, and include running park and ride services. The main such scheme along the route is in Guildford. In February 2015, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced plans to build over a short section at Tolworth, after visiting a similar site in Boston, Massachusetts; the Mayor said "rebuilding some of our complex and ageing road network underneath our city would not only provide additional capacity for traffic, but it would also unlock surface space and reduce the impact of noise and pollution." Similar plans have been proposed for other areas of London but proven cost-prohibitive.
The junction between the A3(M) and the A27
|Length||5 mi (8 km)|
|(London), (Portsmouth), (Chichester), (Petersfield), Waterlooville|
This section of the road was opened in 1979 and acts as an alternative to the A3 road in this part of Hampshire.
|Northbound exits||Junction||Southbound exits|
|Road continues as the A3 to Petersfield and London||A3
|Horndean, Clanfield A3 |
Portsmouth, Hayling Island A3(M)
|No exit||Start of motorway|
|Horndean, Cowplain B2149||J2||Emsworth, Rowlands Castle B2149, Cowplain|
|Waterlooville B2150||J3||Waterlooville, Purbrook, Leigh Park B2150|
|Purbrook, Leigh Park||J4||No exit|
|Start of motorway||J5
|Bedhampton, Farlington, Drayton|
|Petersfield, London, Waterlooville, Leigh Park (A3(M))
|Brighton, Chichester, Havant, Hayling Island A27(E) |
Portsmouth, Southampton (M27) A27(W)
There are shared pedestrian and cycle paths by or on the A3.
One cycle path links Liss with larger Petersfield on the Portsmouth-bound (south) side.
From the former, a cycle path runs alongside between adjoining villages Greatham and West Liss. The path is on the London-bound side, linking to a minor road bridge over the A3 to West Liss which is close to the centre of Liss.
Using the above routes together, cyclists and pedestrians from Petersfield and Liss (and points further south) can pass over the A3 at Liss and safely pass the Ham Barn roundabout to access various roads from Greatham: towards London from this village is an eastward path (alongside the A3) to Liphook via the northern perimeter of Longmoor Camp and Griggs Green, Liphook. From there, a single carriageway that is not a trunk road runs to Guildford. From the Burpham junction, a track facilitates access to Woking which has good access to the RideLondon–Surrey Classic route.
Nearer Portsmouth, there is a cycle path between Clanfield and the Queen Elizabeth Country Park, a large forest and downland area in the South Downs National Park. There is, however, no cycle path between Petersfield and the Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Instead, there are footpaths for pedestrians only from the nearest village, Buriton.
In Portsmouth, near where bypassed by the A3(M), and in London, a lower speed limit on the road and fewer than three lanes facilitate cycling.
Media related to A3 road (England) at Wikimedia Commons