A multi-million pound scheme to upgrade the busy M5 Junction 25 roundabout at Taunton is scheduled to begin next month following the appointment of the principal contractor.
Somerset County Council has developed a scheme to increase the capacity of this vital link to improve traffic flow, ease peak hour congestion and unlock land for employment to the east of the M5.
Now, following a decision by the Council’s Cabinet before Christmas and the completion of the mandatory procurement standstill period, the contractor can be named as Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd.
This name will be familiar to many in Somerset as they are currently delivering the Western Corridor improvements scheme in Yeovil.
Somerset County Council is now working with Alun Griffiths to finalise the detailed plans for delivery.
Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “We’re pleased to have Alun Griffiths on board and are now working with them on the details of this vitally important scheme.
“Works are planned to begin next month and we’ll be announcing details of the start date and public drop-in events very shortly so we can meet people and go through the plans in more detail.
“This scheme is hugely significant and will provide much needed improvements to one our busiest junctions. We can’t wait to get started.”
Griffiths’ Executive Director Martyn Evans said: “We are delighted to be appointed to deliver this important scheme with Somerset County Council. Griffiths have, over many years, developed a close working relationship with the county resulting in the successful delivery of significant projects which have provided added value to the local economy.
“We look forward to starting work on Junction 25 and recognise the importance of this scheme for the local community and route users. Griffiths will work considerately with the community and do our best to minimise disruption to road users during the various construction phases of the programme.”
The J25 scheme is expected to cost around £19.2m with allocated funding from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal Fund, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Highways England, Somerset County Council and developer contributions.
Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley CBE DL said: “The Junction 25 improvement is one of the LEP’s largest Growth Deal projects. We’re committed to working with government to attract investment in projects that generate growth and help businesses raise productivity in Somerset, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. This major infrastructure improvement will do just that by increasing the connectivity of our area to UK and international markets.”
Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, Cllr John Williams said: “The enhancement of Junction 25 represents a major step forward to improve our all-important road system. It opens up a significant opportunity to bring new business and investment to Taunton. It is not only vital to cope with growth across the town but is pivotal to our plans for the Nexus 25 employment site which will support innovation, collaboration and the productivity that our economy needs. It is great to see this project moving forward to benefit the long term connectivity and economy of Taunton. I now look forward to the announcement of the preferred route of the A358 in the spring which is another essential element of our plans to deliver improved infrastructure to match the growth in housing, jobs and leisure in our County town.”
The upgrade involves full signalisation and enlarging of the roundabout, widening of the eastern exit, a new roundabout to access the proposed Nexus 25 employment site, and safer pedestrian and cycling facilities.
Junction 25 currently experiences congestion in both peak hours, with queues frequently extending along the A358 in both directions and it will help address issues with backing up onto the M5.
The scheme aims to improve journey times, reduce congestion, improve Park & Ride journey time reliability and create a more attractive gateway to Taunton, Yeovil and the A303 from the M5. The scheme will also unlock access into the proposed Nexus 25 employment site and support other planned growth across Taunton.
The designs have been shared with Highways England who are developing a major dual carriageway improvement to the A358 between Ilminster and the M5. Highways England consulted on three A358 options last year and these localised improvements to Junction 25 are necessary regardless of which wider A358 option is taken forward by Highways England.
The J25 scheme, which is expected to take two years to deliver, has also been planned to run alongside future planned improvements at the Creech Castle junction on Toneway in Taunton. This scheme is currently being developed but works are expected to begin in 2020. Co-ordinating them to overlap in this way should reduce the impact on motorists by reducing the overall timescales compared to running them consecutively.