£93 million for North Devon section
The case for £93 million of improvements to the North Devon link road has been submitted to the Department for Transport after being backed by Devon County councillors.
It is the final hurdle before the improvements to a 7.5km stretch of the A361 between the Portmore roundabout in Barnstaple to Filleigh Cutting near South Molton can get underway.The main work is due to start in November, with major construction work would likely begin in 2021. It will take about wo years. Planning permission was approved 18 months ago. Two further schemes – a pedestrian and cyclist underpass at the Bishop’s Tawton Junction and a spiral footbridge at the Landkey junction – were subsequently granted planning permission.
Cllr Andrea Davis, cabinet member for infrastructure, development and waste, told a virtual meeting: “There are a number of surveys still need to be carried out prior to the start of work but we remain confident of getting this scheme underway as soon as we possibly can. The final piece of the jigsaw and is to get permission from the Department for Transport to begin construction and I am confident we can do it within the £93m budget.”
Cllr Frank Biederman, leader of the Independent Group, said that it would have a positive impact on North Devon and that he couldn’t wait to see the shovels in the ground, while Cllr Alan Connett, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Cllr Rob Hannaford, leader of the Labour Group, both welcomed the submission, with the latter adding: “This will be much more than just a link road.”
More than £83 million of government funding has been confirmed to pay for upgrades with a further £10 million coming from Devon County Council’s Highways department. More than 20,000 trees and bushes will be planted before construction work begins.
WHAT IMPROVEMENTS WILL BE MADE?
Arguably the biggest change will be that three large sections of the road will see an extra overtaking lane added.
In total, this will add approximately seven kilometres of “alternating overtaking” lanes to the road at the following sections:
Portmore to Landkey (1km)
Landkey to Swimbridge (2km)
Swimbridge to Filleigh Cutting (4km)
These will be monitored by average speed cameras, which the council says will provide “more reliable journey times, less accidents and greater resilience”.
Average speed cameras
As part of the road safety improvements, average speed cameras will be introduced to sections of the road.
Average speed cameras, also known as SPECS, operate as sets of two or more cameras installed along a fixed route that can be from 200 metres (660 feet) to 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) in length.
The following improvements will also be made:
Buckleigh Road junction, Bideford – conversion of three-arm priority junction to three-arm signalised junction
Heywood Road roundabout, Bideford – increase the size of the roundabout to allow more lanes for traffic to travel through the junction and add a crossing for pedestrians and cyclists
Westleigh junction, Bideford – additional westbound lane to increase capacity at the signalised junction
Bishop’s Tawton roundabout near Barnstaple – increase the size of the roundabout to allow more lanes for traffic to travel through the junction
Landkey roundabout near Barnstaple – conversion of a three-arm priority junction to a four-arm roundabout to access proposed development
West Buckland junction – conversion of staggered priority junction to grade separated junction to improve safety
Hacche Lane junction near South Molton – conversion of priority junction to restrict right turning movements to improve safety
Borner’s Bridge junction near South Molton – conversion of priority junction to roundabout to improve safety
Objectives for the scheme
Reducing journey times for commercial and non-commercial journey purposes between Barnstaple and Bideford (significant congestion occurs at the key junctions on the corridor particularly at peak times) and the M5 and Barnstaple (to improve connectivity between Bideford, Barnstaple and the wider transport network, including key access points to the national transport network (mainline stations at Tiverton Parkway, and Junction 27 of the M5), particularly in peak season)
Improving highway safety through reducing the rate of fatal and serious accidents (accidents occur at various locations due to overtaking and junctions.)
Improving network resilience through reducing the effects of accidents and incidents (the nature of the road at 7.3 meters wide means small scale works or minor incident can mean a road closure.)
BISHOP’S TAWTON UNDERPASS
The scheme involves enlarging the existing roundabout to provide an additional lane on the A361 through the roundabout, the A377 southern approach to be widened, and a pedestrian/cycle subway to enable safe passage across the A361.
The spiralling bridge would allow the safe crossing of pedestrians and cyclists from Landkey village and a proposed new housing development at Westacott.
As the road is set to be widened at Landkey and a new roundabout installed, it would make it harder for residents of Landkey to cross the road, and it was agreed that a segregated facility close to Landkey Junction to facilitate the safe crossing of pedestrians was required.