Next year’s A39 road closure

As someone who regularly travels up country, not least to visit my ageing Dad, this news which Devon Live recently reminded me of, makes me irritable. It already takes me 60 miles to get to Tiverton Railway Station, so now it’s going to be even more.

Yes, the A39 is being closed from 19th February from Bucks Cross to Downland for 2 weeks, which will be wonderful (not) for those of us in the tourist trade. Usefully, toilets on the A39 to Barnstaple were also closed a year or two back for cost cutting, so if you need to spend a penny on your diverted journey, who knows where you will go?

In terms of locals, people travelling between Bideford and Bucks Mills, Hartland, Woolsery, Clovelly and Kilkhampton will all be affected. If anyone has hospital appointments at Barnstaple, be warned they will be a pain to get to with a 26 mile, yes 26 mile, diversion in place. The planned diversion takes drivers to Holsworthy on the A388 and from back to the A39 at Stratton, near Bude, on the A3072.

Of course, as well as more time taken to travel, there will be a drain on your purse with greater petrol consumption. Older folks in the area who have regular outings to Barnstaple, Atlantic Village and Bude by community bus may also struggle. As for anyone working…

Of course, the diversions in place are the official alternative route. Locals will, obviously, find other, faster ways to get about so the minor roads may well be difficult at this time; it will also be winter. I’ve already planned my alternative route, for it was bad enough getting out of Bude yesterday with traffic backed up while work stretched out close to Valley Road junction during school traffic time.

Prior to this, work will be carried out on the Torridge Bridge on the main A39 link road towards Bude. It is due to start on 2 January 2018 and the work will be carried out at night under two-way lights. At least this is at night, though there will be a bridging system in place during the day to ensure both lanes remain open under a temporary speed restriction throughout the duration of the work. The expansion joints (which allow the bridge structure to expand and contract with changing temperatures) are failing and need to be replaced. These joints are a very important part of bridge design and essential to the long-term safe operation of the bridge. This work will replace the west expansion joint with the east joint being replaced at a later date. A speed restriction has been implemented prior to this work to help prevent further damage to the joint.

A reminder of the original letter about the A39:



I am writing to give you advance notice of Devon County Council’s proposed highway structural maintenance scheme on the A39 from Bucks Cross to Downland Cross. The proposed scheme will entail carrying out improvements to the existing highway drainage, areas of full pavement reconstruction and complete resurfacing to this 1.1km length of carriageway.

In order to keep the road open the contractor is required to provide a safe working area and live carriageway which would equate to 7.5m wide. The average width along this length of the A39 is approximately 6.7 metres. This road also contains 2 very sharp bends which would require a wider live carriageway. Therefore, to keep the road open during the proposed work is not possible.

The construction work will be carried out under a 24/7 road closure, which is proposed to start on the 19th February 2018 and finish on the 6th March 2018. The works have been planned so that they start immediately after the school half term holiday, avoid the local shooting season and be completed before the Easter period. Of course these dates are subject to adverse weather conditions.

The diversion route will be signed via A39 Bideford, A386 Landcross, Holsworthy, A3072 Stratton and A39 (see attached plan), as there is a requirement to use roads of an equal category. Access will be maintained to properties located between Bucks Cross and Downland Cross during the closure and the contractor will contact residents nearer the time to discuss access arrangements.

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me on the above number or alternatively via the email address ( In my absence, please ask for my line manager Simon Hill.

Yours sincerely
James Millichope
Incorporated Engineer
Engineering Design Group
Devon County Council
Taw View
EX31 1EE
Tel: 0845 1551004


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