A multi-million project to upgrade Taunton’s M5 Junction 25 has taken a big step forward with the opening of an important new link road serving the town and motorway.
The Nexus link road is the next key stage in the £19.2m improvement of Junction 25, which when finished next summer will deliver significantly increased capacity.
The road, which from Sunday night (January 17) began carrying A358 traffic for the first time, is a key gateway to Taunton, the M5 and will serve the new Nexus 25 industrial estate.
The Junction 25 project still has some way to go before its completion – there is a significant amount of work yet to be undertaken on the ‘old’ section of the A358 between Junction 25 and the Gateway Park and Ride, that will carry eastbound traffic once the project is complete, but this week’s opening is a huge step forward.
Junction 25 currently experiences congestion in both peak hours, with queues frequently extending along the A358 in both directions.
“Moving traffic from the existing A358 and onto the new Nexus link road is a major milestone,” said Cllr John Woodman, who has responsibility for highways and transport for the county council.
“It means we can complete the remaining work while keeping the network moving with minimal disruption. The benefits of the scheme will become more apparent once the project is complete with significantly increased capacity.
“It’s a fantastic effort to get this far during an incredibly challenging year and I’m hugely grateful to our contractor Alun Griffiths for meeting the challenge and getting us here.
“I’d also like to thank our partners – Heart of the South West LEP, Highways England, Somerset’s Chamber of Commerce and Somerset West and Taunton Council and for their magnificent support.”
Overall, J25 improvements include an enlargement of the roundabout, full signalisation and a widened eastern exit, a new roundabout to access the proposed Nexus 25 site, and safer pedestrian and cycling facilities.
The £19.2m for the project includes allocated funding from the Heart of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal Fund, Somerset West & Taunton Council, Highways England, Somerset County Council and developer contributions.
Karl Tucker, Chair, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “We are delighted that the Heart of the SW LEP has been able to support this project through Growth Deal funding. The Growth Deal programme aims to fund strategic infrastructure projects that will help stimulate economic growth and increased productivity. This project to improve J25 will reduce congestion, improve traffic flow and create a safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians. It is great to see significant progress being made on the overall project with the opening of the new link road, particularly given the challenging year that project team having been working through.”
Simon Dunn Operations Director for Alun Griffiths said: ““Griffiths are proud to be part of this important project to improve traffic flows at J25 and to have achieved this fantastic milestone.
“The last year has seen some significant challenges, however the progress achieved is testament to the collaborative approach taken by the Griffiths and Somerset CC teams.
“I would like to thank local residents, businesses and the travelling public for their understanding whilst these works have taken place and look forward to a successful final phase to complete the remaining works”
What’s left to do? A new road formation on the old A358 . . .
Between now and May, the remaining A358 between the J25 roundabout and the Ruishton Lane junction is to be completely remodeled with two lanes heading towards Henlade and just one lane reserved for Park and Ride buses heading towards Taunton. This means resurfacing and significant landscaping works.
Find out more about the scheme and sign up for e-newsletters at www.travelsomerset.co.uk/j25 and stay up to date by following @TravelSomerset on Twitter.