Funding to develop major road improvement plans announced

A government cash boost of more than a quarter of a million pounds has been announced for North Somerset Council to develop ideas to improve a major transport route.

Working with Somerset County Council the local authority has outlined some early proposals that could see the A38, which is a key route for the south west that runs from Bristol city to the M5 junction at Burnham-on-Sea, improved.

These possibilities, which are all improvements to the existing road, were submitted to the Department of Transport’s Major Road Network for £260,000 to develop the proposals to the next stage, which is called the outline businesses case.

This will include assessing the impact of any changes and estimating the costs of potential work alongside the benefits it would bring, as well as sharing ideas and getting feedback from businesses, travellers, organisations, and the local community, to help shape the plans.

The aim of the proposals is to create extra capacity, improve journey times and enhance resilience for all roads in the area, as the A38 is used as a diversion for the M5. The scheme would create better access for passengers and staff at Bristol Airport, would improve the reliability of bus services that use the route, and would ease congestion throughout North Somerset and beyond.

North Somerset Council’s executive member with responsibility for highways, Cllr James Tonkin, said: “The funding announcement from the Department for Transport is great news for the council, our residents and businesses.

“Those who regularly travel along the A38 will know how unreliable it can be in terms of journey times.

“This government funding will allow us to develop our plans, in consultation with our businesses and communities, to find the best possible solutions to improve this road.

“The fact that our bid was one of only 18 announced across the country with this wave of funding is a testament to the strength of the case we have put forward and how vital improvements are needed.”

Situated on the A38 Bristol International Airport, a major business in North Somerset, also welcomed the news.

Simon Earles, Planning and Sustainability Director at Bristol Airport, said: “The government’s support of the proposals to improve the existing A38 is great news for our staff and our passengers.

“As the South West’s gateway to the world we want to make international connections more easily accessible to people and businesses across our region, so we are fully supportive of plans to improve reliability and journey times to and from the airport.”

The outline business case will take up to 10 months to put together. It will include future opportunities for businesses and residents to have their say as the plans are developed. Construction could start as early as 2021, once funding has been secured.