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A303 preferred route announced

Words: Laura Edgar
A303 Ilchester / The Mallick Family

Highways England has published the preferred route for the £179 million dualling of the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester.

This follows publication in September of the preferred route for the upgrade of the A303 near Stonehenge, which includes a tunnel.

The government plans to upgrade all remaining sections of the A303 between the M3 and M5 to dual carriageway, including these two schemes and the A358 between Taunton and Southfields.

A consultation was held earlier this year for the upgrade three-mile section between Sparkford and Ilchester, comprising two options. The government said its preferred route would support the local economy’s growth by making the area more accessible for tourism and business.

It added that access for pedestrians, equestrians and cyclists would be improved and biodiversity protected.

Chris Grayling, transport secretary, said: “Our major upgrade to the A303, linking the M3 in the South East and the M5 in the South West, will create an expressway to boost the regional economy and provide better transport links.

“As part of this work, the £179 million upgrade between Sparkford and Ilchester will cut congestion, reduce journey times and improve safety for all road users.”

Jim O’Sullivan, chief executive at Highways England, added: “The A303 is a vital route between the South West and the rest of the country and this upgrade is absolutely necessary to provide much-needed capacity and to relieve the congestion which drivers have suffered for years.

“People who responded to our consultation earlier this year demonstrated strong support for option one, which closely follows the route of the existing A303 and so would have less impact on the rural setting.”

A consultation on the preferred route is set to take place early next year, followed by submission of a development consent order planning application.

Image credit | The Mallick Family