NEW EXHIBITIONS: A303 consultation events
New exhibitions to inform the Somerset public about impending upgrades to the A303 will be held later this month.
Highways England was granted permission in late-January to dual the three miles of single carriageway between the Podimore and Sparkford roundabouts in an effort to cut journey times through the south west.
The agency intends to hold virtual exhibitions in late-July for residents, businesses and motorists to provide greater details of each section of the upgrade and see how disruption can be minimised once work gets under way in September.
This comes as Highways England indicated that the cost of the scheme would be considerably lower than the £250M originally indicated.
Project manager Hannah Sanderson said: “The scheme is incredibly important for Somerset’s future, vital to the A303/ A358 corridor, and is part of the biggest investment in our road network for a generation alongside the A303 Stonehenge tunnel project.
“From a project perspective, it’s exciting that we are now close to works starting in September, with the scheme supporting economic growth and facilitating a growth in jobs and housing by creating a free-flowing and reliable connection between the south east and south west.
“It will also tackle a long-standing bottleneck, reduce journey times to the south-west and improve traffic flows in that area at peak times and during peak seasons.
“While closures will be kept to a minimum, I’m sure local residents will have questions around the latest plans and traffic management, so we encourage everyone to join the virtual exhibition.”
Highways England initially estimated that the project could cost £250M to complete within these three years – but it has now revised this figure downwards to between £130M and £160M.
Lee Nathan, south west regional chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Upgrading the single carriageway sections of this important route is key to supporting the south west economy, particularly as the only alternative route via the M4 and M5 into the south west is already heavily congested.
“We believe that more investment should be directed to improving key links on the A-road network across the UK as a way of supporting our local regional economies.
“As a result, we are wholeheartedly in support of this new scheme.”
The virtual exhibition will be held between noon and 8pm on July 22 and 23, with attendees being able to post questions in a live chat.
To view the exhibition on these dates, visit www.highwaysengland.co.uk/a303-sparkford-to-ilchester and follow the recommended links.
Anyone who has unable to log in who wishes to leave comments or ask questions can do so by emailing A303SparkfordtoIlchesterDualling@highwaysengland.co.uk or by calling 0300 123 5000.
The exhibition will remain live and be regularly updated throughout the construction period, which will end when the new road opens to traffic in 2024.
Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
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