From Devon County Council:
A multi-million upgrade of the North Devon Link Road has received £83 million of government funding, it’s been announced today (Thursday 17 May).
Devon County Council’s bid for Local Majors Funding to improve the A361 has successfully won the backing of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
The funding will go towards a £93 million scheme which would widen the North Devon Link Road from South Molton to Barnstaple to provide more overtaking opportunities. Junction improvements and safety upgrades will also be carried out from South Molton to Bideford.
Around 70% of the upgraded stretch from South Molton to Barnstaple will feature overtaking lanes, increasing on the current level of 10%. The road would continue to have a 60mph speed limit with the use of average speed cameras recommended to improve safety.
This initial scheme is the first phase of planned improvements. Devon County Council has supported a long-term strategy to upgrade the Link Road in order to improve journey time reliability, improve road safety and support economic growth.
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Development and Waste, said: “This investment will be welcomed throughout North Devon and Torridge where people have been campaigning for years for improvements to the Link Road. It’s a vital route for the region, and countless people depend on it on a daily basis.
“This announcement confirms that the government has recognised the issues of getting in and out of North Devon. The improvements to this main route will give a huge boost to our economy, the benefits will be felt by our local residents, businesses and visitors. We’ve worked closely with the local MP Peter Heaton-Jones and DfT officials. Devon County Council officers have been tireless in their support for this important route, and today the result of all this activity has paid off for our beautiful area of Devon.”
The Local Majors Fund aims to support schemes which tackle congestion and help business growth.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This Government is investing record amounts in our roads, spending £6 billion to improve journeys in our towns and cities and boost their economies. Devon County Council’s plans to widen the A361 will ease traffic on the road and improve every day journeys for residents and businesses in North Devon. Our commitment of £83.1 million to the scheme will help improve access to towns in the region.”
Peter Heaton-Jones, MP for North Devon, said: “This is brilliant news for North Devon. Huge thanks are due to Devon County Council for the superb way in which this bid was put together. The Highways Team has worked incredibly hard on this, and today that hard work has paid off. This funding will unlock massive economic potential for North Devon. It’s a point which the County Council and I have been pressing extremely hard. It is great that the government has listened. I’m absolutely delighted.”
The long-term strategy for the North Devon Link Road includes upgrades to eight junctions along the A361 and A39 and additional overtaking lanes on sections of the Link Road. There would also be an urban four-lane road, with two lanes in each direction, between Portmore roundabout and Roundswell roundabout.
To improve road safety, all uncontrolled right turns would be removed and pedestrian facilities improved for over 35km between Bish Mill junction, east of South Molton, and Buckleigh Road Junction near Bideford.
A planning application is now due to be submitted later this year, with a Full Business Case being submitted in 2020, which would potentially allow construction to start in late 2020.