Somerset Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Stephen Henagulph was on hand to help with the first step in a £19.2 million scheme to upgrade the M5 Junction 25 roundabout in Taunton.
He was among business leaders, civic dignitaries, funding partners and developers who attended a ceremony to mark the start of advance site clearance works.
The works include the relocation and replanting of around 200 established trees from the site to West Monkton Country Park.
The multi-million pound Junction 25 scheme is being spearheaded by Somerset County Council with funding from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal Fund, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Highways England, the county council and developer contributions.
The aim is to improve traffic flow, ease peak hour congestion and unlock land for employment to the east of the M5. The main construction programme is due to start later this month (March).
Stephen said: “Good transport links are vital for local businesses and this upgrade will help to reduce congestion and improve journey times, as well as unlocking a 25-hectare employment site which will bring a host of new opportunities and benefits for the local area.”
The upgrade involves full signalisation and enlarging of the existing motorway roundabout, widening of the eastern exit, a new roundabout to access the proposed Nexus 25 employment site and safer pedestrian and cycling facilities.
Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes for a long time to bring these much-needed improvements forward but it’s fantastic to finally see action on site.
“This scheme will benefit many thousands of drivers who use this busy junction each day as well as opening up land for employment so this is a significant and very welcome milestone.”
The J25 scheme, which is expected to take two years to deliver, has will run alongside future planned improvements at the Creech Castle junction on Toneway in Taunton, which is expected to start in 2020.
Minister for Local Growth, Jake Berry, said: “This is an important gateway to Taunton and the improvements, made possible by £12.186 million of investment from the Local Growth Fund, will significantly benefit commuters and local people as well as unlocking land for new businesses and jobs in the Heart of the South West.”
Two community drop-in events will be held at Ruishton Village Hall from 3pm to 8pm on Thursday, March 7, and Thursday, March 14, to give people the opportunity to see the plans in detail.