Junction 25 upgrade formally approved

A multi-million pound scheme to upgrade the busy M5 Junction 25 roundabout at Taunton was formally approved today.

Somerset County Council has developed a scheme to increase the capacity of this vital link to improve traffic flow, ease peak hour congestion and unlock land for employment.

The scheme reached a major milestone today with the Council’s Cabinet unanimously voting to appoint a contractor for the scheme following a robust procurement process.

It is expected to cost around £19.2m with allocated funding from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal Fund, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Highways England, and developer contributions. Depending on the final costs of the scheme, additional funding may be required from Somerset County Council’s capital programme.

The contract will be signed in the New Year once the mandatory standstill period has ended. Until this point, the successful contractor cannot be named.

The next step will be for detailed plans for the delivery of the scheme to be finalised by the County Council working closely with the new contractor. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2019.

Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “There is no doubting the importance of Junction 25. It not only provides the main access point to our county town but also links with both the M5 and A358/A303 – the two main strategic routes through Somerset.

“Today’s decision to appoint a contractor is a huge step forward and great news for the many thousands of drivers who use the junction every day.

“Works will begin next spring and we look forward to unveiling the contractor and sharing details with the public as soon as the formalities are out of the way.”

The J25 scheme involves full signalisation and enlarging of the roundabout, widening of the eastern exit, a new roundabout to access the proposed Nexus 25 employment site, and improved pedestrian and cycling facilities.

Junction 25 currently experiences congestion in both peak hours, with queues frequently extending along the A358 in both directions and occasionally backed up onto the M5.

The upgrade aims to improve journey times, reduce congestion, improve Park & Ride journey time reliability and create a more attractive access to Taunton, Yeovil and the A303 from the M5. The scheme will also unlock access into the proposed Nexus 25 employment site and support other planned growth across Taunton.

Cllr John Williams, Leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, said: “The enhancement of Junction 25 represents a major step forward to improve our all-important road system. It opens up a significant opportunity to bring new business and investment to Taunton.

“It is not only vital to cope with growth across the town but is pivotal to our plans for the Nexus 25 employment site which will support innovation, collaboration and the productivity that our economy needs. It is great to see this project moving forward to benefit the long term connectivity and economy of Taunton.

“I now look forward to the announcement of the preferred route of the A358 in the spring which is another essential element of our plans to deliver improved infrastructure to match the growth in housing, jobs and leisure in our County town.”

Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley CBE DL said: “The Junction 25 improvement is one of the LEP’s largest Growth Deal projects. We’re committed to working with government to attract investment in projects that generate growth and help businesses raise productivity in Somerset, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. This major infrastructure improvement will do just that by increasing the connectivity of our area to UK and international markets.”

Ian Parsons, Senior Investment Planning Manager for Highways England, said: “We’re committed to working with local partners to deliver specific projects, such as the M5 Junction 25 upgrade, which will make a real difference to communities and support regional economies.

“Contributing £4 million from our Growth and Housing Fund, we are pleased we have been able to support Somerset County Council and contribute to growth in the Taunton area by helping to deliver a scheme to improve and increase the capacity of the Junction 25 roundabout, which provides a vital link for communities and businesses.

“The improvements are vital to accommodate the extra journeys the developments will create and we will continue to use our Growth and Housing Fund and work with a range of local stakeholders to unlock further development sites around the country.”

These designs have been developed alongside Highways England and take into account HE’s ongoing proposals to upgrade the A358. The improvements will provide benefits if the road system stays the same or if it changes in future.