***Latest News*** Thursday 2nd April: Public drop-in events planned to take place in March have been cancelled in line with Government guidance due to the Coronavirus pandemic. You can sign up for combined M5 Junction 25 and Toneway Creech Castle newsletters to stay up to date as the schemes progress. As of Thursday 2nd April, the work was planned to start on 14 April, this will now be paused until at least July in light of uncertainty over materials, sub-contractors and key utilities work. It will also allow contractor Alun Griffiths to focus its resources on the M5 Junction 25 project.
Thursday 2nd April: Public drop-in events planned to take place in March have been cancelled in line with Government guidance due to the Coronavirus pandemic. You can sign up for combined M5 Junction 25 and Toneway Creech Castle newsletters to stay up to date as the schemes progress. As of Thursday 2nd April, the work was planned to start on 14 April, this will now be paused until at least July in light of uncertainty over materials, sub-contractors and key utilities work. It will also allow contractor Alun Griffiths to focus its resources on the M5 Junction 25 project.
Somerset County Council is upgrading the Toneway Creech Castle junction to ease congestion and improve access to Taunton. This page explains more about the scheme and what the work will involve.
The Creech Castle junction on the Toneway (A358) is a main pinchpoint on the Taunton highway network that causes disruption during peak times.
Key problems include limited stacking space for vehicles turning right into A38 Bridgwater Road towards Monkton Heathfield. There is also queuing on the northbound and southbound approaches of Bridgwater Road. The junction lacks any capacity for future permitted development in Monkton Heathfield and is very poor for pedestrians and cyclists.
You can read more about the background and see the plans in “Why are we doing this work?”
The upgrade is designed to increase the capacity of the Toneway Creech Castle junction by widening and adding additional lanes. Once complete, there will be three straight ahead lanes in each direction on the Toneway. There will also be three lanes for traffic turning from the A38 Bridgwater Road from either direction onto the Toneway.
In addition, the right turn lane from the Toneway onto the A38 Bridgwater Road north is much longer to cope with increasing traffic volumes. The improved junction also has an integrated parallel crossing to offer significant benefits for cyclists and pedestrians. See the general scheme drawing below to view in more detail.
The objectives of the scheme are:
• Support the economy in Taunton by supporting the delivery of employment and residential sites.
• Reduce peak hour congestion along the Toneway (compared to how it would be without the scheme), improving access from the M5 to Taunton town centre.
• Reduce severance caused by the A358 at this location.
You can see the rest of the drawings here.
The Toneway Creech Castle scheme upgrade is expected to cost around £8.3m with allocated funding from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal Fund, Somerset County Council and developer contributions.
The Heart of the South West LEP’s total Growth Deal is worth over £590m; including £239m from Government and £351m match funding. Over the lifetime of the Growth Deal: 2015 – 2021; HotSW LEP estimates the investment will create up to 22,504 new jobs and 16,815 new homes; over 55,381 people will be trained under this programme and over 39,325 businesses will have been supported.
“Local Growth Fund”
Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone. That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.
Some additional key facts:
• There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England
• The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth.
• LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.
The work is being carried out by Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd. Alun Griffiths is a leading regional civil engineering and construction contractor with a track record stretching back almost 50 years. They construct new roads, bridges and railways as well as maintaining existing assets for both public and private clients.
Griffiths are not new to working in Somerset and are currently delivering the M5 Junction 25 scheme. Other recent projects in the South West include the Yeovil Western Corridor improvements, Portmore Roundabout, Barnstaple, Westaway Junction, Barnstaple, the new junction on the A361 at Tiverton, and a major infrastructure project in North Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire for Metrobus.
Extensive public consultation took place back in 2018 which showed most respondents were supportive of the scheme’s objectives.
The community drop-in events due to be held in March have been cancelled due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
Construction is due to begin in Spring 2020 and take approximately 12 months.
Our contractor Alun Griffiths are working dynamically to make the most of opportunities and resources to carry out the works as quickly and with as little disruption as possible to traffic, residents and businesses.
This does mean plans may sometimes change at short notice but Alun Griffiths will do their best to provide advance notice of works which may impact on your journey through this web page, the regular newsletters and the @TravelSomerset Twitter account. To receive the latest newsletters by email please sign up for J25 and Toneway Creech Castle scheme updates.
Q. Why isn’t the roundabout going back in?
Roundabouts have a place and work well where traffic volumes are light and queues are balanced. However, they also have less capacity than signalised junctions. At this location reverting to a roundabout would make congestion worse rather than enabling growth.
Q. Why aren’t you building a flyover?
The cost of constructing a flyover is not achievable within the budget and there are no sources of funding which could be used to sufficiently increase the budget.
Q. Why can’t you spend this money on fixing potholes or road maintenance?
The majority of the funding for this work is from the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal or and from housing developers. The Growth Deal funding has been specifically secured for these improvements based on the business case. If we didn’t bid for the money it would be spent improving roads elsewhere in the South West. Our own council revenue budget for road maintenance or other services is completely separate.
Q. What about the other junctions along Toneway? Hankridge and Obridge?
This scheme is known to us as Toneway Phase 1: Creech Castle. We continue to seek funding to improve other junctions in Taunton as part of our wider strategy to tackle congestion.
Q. Doesn’t the pedestrian/cycle crossing make the junction less efficient?
No, the measures within the scheme do not reduce traffic capacity as they provide a green light for pedestrians and cyclists when traffic needs to be stopped on the eastern arm to allow other arms of the junction to flow.
Q. Why does the junction need to include pedestrians and cyclists? Shouldn’t they use the footbridge?
A key objective of this scheme is to encourage walking and cycling by reducing the severance of the A358 Toneway – something which will become more important with planned development in the Monkton Heathfield area.
The current footbridge is not suitable for cyclists due to the width and parapet height, and its location some distance from the junction acts as a barrier for pedestrians. Traffic surveys show that a considerable number of cyclists use the junction but only half use the bridge, with the rest choosing to use the road. This scheme is able to improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists as much as possible within the constraints without impacting on traffic flow.
Q. How does the parallel crossing work?
A parallel crossing has separate, easily identifiable routes for cyclists and pedestrians, with coloured surfacing to highlight the route for cyclists and separate signals to show cyclists and pedestrians when it is safe to cross. This will be the first one in Somerset although they exist elsewhere, including in Bristol.
The main benefit of a parallel crossing is that it enables cycles to cross more efficiently in a single movement without causing any additional delays to traffic. While the traffic is held to allow vehicles coming from Bridgwater Road north to turn right onto Toneway, cyclists and pedestrians crossing the Toneway will be given a green light to allow them to cross. However, because cyclists are faster than pedestrians, they will have time to safely cross both sides of the road, while pedestrians will need two phases. This method is still significantly quicker and more convenient for both groups than using the old footbridge.
Q. Why are you banning the right turn towards Halcon Corner?
The number of vehicles turning from Toneway into Bridgwater Road towards Halcon corner is about 1% of all traffic moving through the junction. Banning this movement helps increase the capacity of the junction. Any traffic wishing to make this movement will need to use one of two existing alternatives either via Chritchard Way / Wordsworth Dr / Hamilton Way or make a U-turn at Hankridge Roundabout.
Q. What traffic management will be in place while works are underway?
The below graphic shows the temporary traffic management plan.
The main principle is that the Bridgwater Road North arm of the junction will need to be closed to traffic in both directions for the duration (apart from for pedestrians and cyclists). We will keep two lanes of traffic open on the Toneway heading into Taunton from the M5, with one lane in place for traffic heading away from town. The right turn from the Toneway into Bridgwater Road South will also be banned (as it will be when the scheme is complete).
Q. Why are you closing Bridgwater Road north of the junction?
A road closure is always the last resort and this was no easy decision. However, this scheme requires significant construction activities with heavy machinery and excavations in the road. Our priority is to keep both the workforce and travelling public safe – therefore we have to close part of the carriageway to complete these works.
We have considered many different options – for example, using temporary multi-way traffic lights on the junction. However, this method is projected to cause long queues on the Toneway and potentially back on to the M5. We have also considered closing the Toneway or Bridgwater Road south but our analysis suggests closing Bridgwater Road north to be the least disruptive option and will reduce the overall scheme duration. Bridgwater Road north will be kept open to pedestrians and cyclists throughout.
Q. Why are you doing these works at the same time as the Junction 25 works?
There are many benefits to carrying out the two schemes simultaneously – the main one being that the overall disruption will be confined to a shorter time period. We would always need to close one arm of the Toneway junction whenever works began. Therefore, waiting until the Junction 25 works are complete would simply extend the disruption for another year.
Q. Why aren’t you working at night or 24/7?
Alun Griffiths will be working at night for certain elements – such as to carry out specific works on the Toneway. But there is little benefit to night working throughout as we would need to keep Bridgwater Road closed during the day anyway. We have considered 24/7 working but this would be prohibitively expensive and would make the scheme unaffordable. We also have to consider noise disturbance caused by working at night.
Q. Will it be safe to walk/cycle through the works?
Yes – our contractor is obligated to maintain safe access for pedestrians and cyclists at all times. In addition, they are always obliged to stop using heavy machinery during school commuting hours and maintain a minimum width of 3.5m.
Q. Will this affect access to homes or properties?
Access to businesses and residential properties will be maintained at all times. If diversions or temporary access arrangements are required these will be clearly signed.
Q. What about public and school transport?
We’ve been working with operators in developing these plans and they will be providing amended services during construction. Please check with your provider for details.
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