A major road improvement scheme to upgrade the busy Toneway Creech Castle junction in Taunton is set to be postponed until next year to support the economy as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Somerset County Council originally planned to begin work in April 2020 but this was temporarily paused due to the start of lockdown and uncertainty over materials, sub-contractors and key utilities work.
Now, following discussions with the business community, it is proposed to postpone the scheme for another 12-18 months. This is to help support the local economy during the recovery by minimising any temporary disruption on a key route into Taunton.
Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “Although these improvements will provide long-term benefits to Taunton’s economy, it was always going to be a challenging scheme to deliver with no option but to close one of our main roads
“Postponing is not an easy decision. We are absolutely committed to improving this key junction when the time is right and will be looking to reschedule this scheme at a later date when the situation is hopefully much improved.”
Councillor David Hall, the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure, said: “Whilst this upgrade is needed to support wider growth in Taunton and Somerset these are difficult times for everyone and we want to support our business communities in our local economy wherever we can.”
Stephen Henagulph, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said: “These are incredibly difficult times for local businesses and we welcome any proposals that will support them as they begin their recovery post lockdown. We know this scheme will cause delays and disruption during construction, but these works are crucial in the long-term to improve the transport infrastructure in Somerset’s county town.”
The Creech Castle scheme was due to be delivered by Alun Griffiths Ltd, who are currently continuing to work on the nearby M5 Junction 25 improvement scheme. Postponing the Creech Castle works has allowed the contractor to press on at Junction 25 during the lockdown period and works remain on schedule, despite the coronavirus disruption. For further updates on Junction 25, and to sign up for email newsletters, please visit www.travelsomerset.co.uk/J25.
The proposal to postpone the Creech Castle works will be considered by Somerset County Council’s Cabinet at its meeting on 17 June.