South West region

South west region

Targeted programme of improvements

The A303 alongside Stonehenge is a bottleneck and intrudes into the setting of this precious ancient monument. It has been decided thatthe only acceptable solution which will relieve the problem and at the same time enhance the setting of the monument is to construct adual carriageway in a 2km cut and cover tunnel. Such a scheme would be too expensive to warrant priority within the targeted programmeof improvements if assessed solely in terms of transport benefits. The scheme will therefore be taken forward on the understanding thatat least a third of the costs will be funded from heritage sources. The scheme will include the proposed A303 Winterbourne Stoke Bypass.

In addition, preparation work will continue to progress the following scheme to remove a bottleneck on the A30 in Cornwall to enable itto be taken forward without delay subject to full appraisal and the views of the regional planning conference:

  • A30 Bodmin-Indian Queens Improvement

Schemes associated with development

The following development driven scheme will be taken forward subject to agreement with the developer concerned:

  • M49 Severnside Junction

Proposed studies

Subject to consultation with the regional planning conference it is proposed to undertake the studies detailed below. The outcome ofthese studies will inform consideration of transport infrastructure requirements in preparing Regional Planning Guidance, including theneed for improvements to the trunk road network.

London to South West and South Wales Study of the corridor encompassing the M4/M5/A303/A30/A38 and parallel rail routes from the southeast to Penzance. The objective of this study will be to examine the scope for reducing congestion by better management and modal shift,as well as options for taking forward focused improvements, particularly on the A303.

A419 at Blunsdon Study to look at the problems of the A419 at this location

In addition, the Salisbury Transport Study is underway of options for dealing with through traffic in the city following the withdrawalof the A36 Salisbury Bypass from the national programme in July 1997.

Smaller scale measures

A number of smaller scale but badly needed measures are underway or planned in the South West which address safety or capacity problemsat particular points on the trunk road network. They will proceed regardless of the outcome of studies affecting the roads. Constructionis underway of the following safety schemes:

  • A30 Kennards House Improvement, Cornwall
  • A361 Moortown Safety Improvement, Devon

Other improvements are planned at:

  • A30 Woodleigh Junction, Devon
  • A30 Plusha Junction Improvement, Cornwall
  • M4/M32/A4174 Junction, South Gloucestershire

Transport system

The South West Region comprises the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, as well as the formerAvon area. It has substantial conurbations in Bristol, Swindon, Gloucester/Cheltenham, Bournemouth/Poole, Exeter, Torbay and Plymouth,which provide much of the economic drive in the region. But it has a much lower than average population density over half the SouthWest's inhabitants live in towns of less than 20,000. Parts of the westerly counties are as remote as any part of England. With lowerdensities, distances to work and other facilities tend to be greater and dependency on the car higher. The service sector, distribution,tourism and high-tech manufacturing are the most significant sectors of the regional economy.

The main trunk road network in the South West is based on the east-west M4 in the north of the region and the north-east/south-westM5/A38/A30 axis. These routes are closely paralleled by the main rail network connecting the west to the major conurbations in theregion and onward to the South East and Midlands/North. North-south routes both road and rail are less well developed, especially inthe eastern part of the region. The main airports in the South West are at Bristol, Bournemouth and Exeter, while the airports atPlymouth and Newquay provide highly-valued links to Gatwick. There are locally important sea and air links from the mainland to theIsles of Scilly. The regions principal port facility is at Bristol which is well located in relation to main road and rail routes.Other significant port activity is at Plymouth and Poole.

Pressure points on eastern regions trunk roads

Following publication of What role for trunk roads in England? a consultative meeting was held with representatives of localauthorities, environmental interest groups, business, transport users and providers to consider problems on the region's trunk roadnetwork and priorities for action. In addition, about 1,600 written responses to the consultation concerning specific schemes in theregion were received.

The main points and areas for action identified as a result of the regional consultation were:

  • The main motorway and trunk road network is vital to the region's economy but the level of congestion on much of the inter-urbannetwork in the South West is not as serious at present as in other regions;
  • The M4/M5 is the principal corridor for the east of the region. Congestion around Bristol is mainly due to local traffic and peakholiday movements. There was support for management options to be explored to tackle these problems;
  • The A303/A30 is an important strategic route linking the western counties of the region to the South East. Rail might offer aneffective alternative for some trips and, as the route is in part an alternative to the M4/M5, the two routes would need to bestudied/managed accordingly, alongside rail options;
  • The existing Salisbury Study should look broadly at travel between the M4 and the south coast, including A34, A350, A37 as well asthe A36/46, alongside rail routes;
  • There is very strong local support for improvement of the A30 between Bodmin and Indian Queens, a new bridge in Poole, and a bypassof Blunsdon, where the role of alternative means of transport in addressing the local problems may well be limited.

Other decisions

The following schemes are to be the subject of further studies and consideration by the regional planning conference:

  • A30/A303 Marsh Honiton and A35 Honiton Eastern Bypass
  • A38 Saltash-Stoketon Cross Improvement
  • A38 Dobwalls Bypass
  • A303 Ilminster Bypass Improvement
  • A303 Ilminster to Marsh Improvement
  • A303 Sparkford to Ilchester Improvement
  • A303 Wylye-Stockton Wood Improvement
  • A303 Chicklade Bottom-Mere Improvement

The following schemes are being withdrawn from the national trunk road programme:

  • M5 J17-21 Widening
  • A31 Poole Link Road
  • Poole Harbour Crossing
  • A36 Codford-Heytesbury Improvement

Proposals for detrunking

Routes wholly or partly within the South West proposed for transfer to local highway authority management are:

  • M32
  • A361/A39 from M5 J27 to Indian Queens
  • A31/A35 from Ferndown Junction (Bournemouth) to Honiton
  • A46/36 from M4 to M27
  • A4 from Bristol to Bath
  • A417 (West of M5)/A40/A48
  • A420