Junction 25

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Junction 25

Junction 25

***Latest News***

M5 Junction 25 drop-in events: Staff from Alun Griffiths and Somerset County Council were on hand to meet local residents at two community drop-in sessions about the M5 Junction 25 Improvement Scheme.  Over 230 people attended the events at Ruishton Village Hall.

Please read our latest press release for details of advance site clearance works.

Somerset County Council is upgrading the busy M5 Junction 25 roundabout at Taunton to improve traffic flow, ease peak hour congestion and unlock land for employment. This page explains more about the scheme and what the work will involve.

Introduction

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

The Junction 25 upgrade has been developed over a number of years and 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 safer pedestrian and cycling facilities.

You can read more about the background and see the plans on the Somerset County Council M5 Junction 25 page

Junction 25 is the main access point to Taunton and also provides a critical link to the M5 and the second strategic route into the South West – the A303 via the A358.

It is heavily used at peak times and carries around 5,000 vehicles during weekday peak hours, with this forecast to increase to 6,500-7,000 at peak times by 2028.

There is a significant level of growth planned across Taunton and in addition Taunton Deane Borough Council has plans for the Nexus 25 strategic employment site close to Junction 25.

Somerset County Council has been working with partners over a number of years to develop a scheme which will increase the capacity of this vital link.

The aims of the scheme are to:

• benefit the economy in Taunton by supporting the delivery of employment and residential development;

• better manage peak hour congestion at Junction 25 and improve access to Taunton and the motorway;

• improve accessibility to Taunton and future development areas for pedestrians and cyclists.

The scheme is expected to cost around £19.2m with allocated funding of £12.186m from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal Fund, £1.5m from Taunton Deane Borough Council, £4m from Highways England, and £1.532m from developer contributions.

The business case for the scheme shows it represents very high value for money with every £1 spent generating £10.40 of savings in journey times for road users, reduced accidents and easier access by bike and on foot.

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 Western Corridor improvement scheme in Yeovil. Other recent projects in the South West include the 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 in 2016. You can see the results of this in the consultation report on the Somerset County Council website.

Two community drop-in events were held pre-construction in March with more than 230 people attending to view the plans and meet with the delivery team.

As the scheme progresses there will be regular contact with the community, including further public drop-in events if required and regular newsletters for residents and businesses. We will also use the @TravelSomerset Twitter account to update people on project news and wider traffic issues.

Rosemarie Harrod is the contractor’s dedicated Public Liaison Officer (PLO) for this project who will maintain and develop a community website and mailing list. If you would like to receive emails about the scheme please contact Rosemarie via M5J25@alungriffiths.co.uk.

A Project Information Centre (PIC) will also be set up where Rosemarie will be on hand to answer any questions and provide up to date information about progress.

The main construction programme is due to start in Spring 2019 and take approximately two years.

Our contractor Alun Griffiths will be 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.

Site clearance and mobilisation works are now underway and the main construction programme will begin later in the Spring. The first major online phase of works will be to widen the Junction 25 roundabout near the Toneway. This will require the use of lane closures which will be in place overnight to minimise disruption. Widening the roundabout will provide more space to enable future works on the Toneway to take place without lane closures, again minimising disruption. Meanwhile, offline works to demolish the old chicken farm will also take place.

During the course of the project, updates of progress and upcoming works will be highlighted on the Community website and through newsletters, press releases and social media. You can also sign up for email updates – please contact Rosemarie Harrod via M5J25@alungriffiths.co.uk

Q. What is wrong with the current junction?
A. Anyone who regularly uses Junction 25, especially during the morning and evening rush hours, will acknowledge that improvements are required. There are frequently problems with queuing on many approaches and the town is growing so the situation is only going to get worse without action. One of the key problems is that some arms of the existing roundabout are not controlled by traffic lights. This means capacity is limited as vehicles struggle to enter the roundabout, particularly at peak times. The other key problem is the very narrow bridge over the Blackbrook stream carrying the A358 eastbound which is only wide enough for three lanes of traffic. This restricts possible options to improve the junction.

Q. Why have you chosen this design?
A. The main objectives of the scheme are to:

• benefit the economy in Taunton by supporting the delivery of employment and residential development;

• better manage peak hour congestion at Junction 25 and improve access to Taunton and the motorway;

• improve accessibility to Taunton and future development areas for pedestrians and cyclists.

A number of options were considered at the design phase to find a scheme which met these objectives. The chosen design is considered the best option when taking into account the available budget and several geographical constraints which include nearby buildings, the M5 motorway and the Blackbrook stream.

The existing roundabout will be widened and elongated as much as possible to increase capacity. The addition of traffic signals to also improve the overall traffic flow by balancing queues. One of the main constraints is the narrow bridge over the Blackbrook stream. Any works to widen this bridge would require a temporary road closure which in itself would cause considerable, and in our view unacceptable, levels of disruption. The chosen design removes this constraint by providing a new link and bridge over the stream. This also allows a new roundabout to be built to provide access to the proposed Nexus 25 employment site. We have also made the junction safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

To see this image in more detail please download the pdf.

Q. How will disruption be managed while work is underway?
A. Junction 25 is already heavily congested, especially at peak times, and clearly adding roadworks to this mix will not improve the situation in the short-term. The new road links and roundabout will be built ‘off-line’ with very little disruption on traffic. When working ‘online’ on the roundabout and approach roads, Alun Griffiths is committed to keeping any additional disruption to a minimum and will choose lower impact working methods wherever possible. For example, using narrow lanes or lane closures rather than temporary traffic lights, or working at night and avoiding busy times. We will aim to provide advance notice of the latest phases and traffic management and will use social media to flag up live traffic issues. We strongly advise drivers to plan ahead while work is underway, avoid peak times if possible, and consider using alternative routes or alternative modes of transport if appropriate. We appreciate roadworks can be disruptive but in the long-term these works are essential to prevent delays at this already congested junction getting much worse.

Q. What will you do about rat-running?
A. Rat-running, where traffic uses inappropriate local routes to avoid a particular area, is already a problem in areas around Junction 25 and this is projected to get worse as the amount of traffic increases. We recognise that rat-running may increase while works are underway but there is no simple solution to this. We could close certain roads or introduce restrictions, but clearly there are consequences to doing so. Along with our contractor Alun Griffiths we will work closely with local communities to identify issues and consider what steps may be appropriate.

Q. How does this tie in with the A358 dualling plans?
A. The Junction 25 scheme is designed as a ‘standalone’ scheme to the A358, and serves a need regardless of the A358 improvements. However, we are working closely with Highways England as they develop their scheme and will continue to do so when they announce their preferred route. This is currently expected in spring 2019. Please see the Highways England A358 webpage for more information.

Q. What’s the point in upgrading Junction 25 when there are queues further down the Toneway?
A. We are committed to making other highways improvements in Taunton to enable all the planned growth. Junction 25 is one of a number of highway improvements that are set out within the transport strategy for Taunton. Our technical assessment demonstrates that this scheme in isolation improves journey times into Taunton. We are actively pursuing all options to secure funding for future schemes along the Toneway Corridor and a scheme to improve the Creech Castle junction is already well developed and due to start in 2020.

Q. Will planned improvements at the Creech Castle junction clash with the Junction 25 scheme?
A. The Junction 25 scheme has been planned to run alongside future planned improvements at the Creech Castle junction on Toneway. This scheme is currently being developed but works are expected to begin in 2020, before the Junction 25 scheme is completed. We will ensure the two schemes do not clash and in fact co-ordinating them to overlap in this way should reduce the overall impact on motorists by reducing the overall timescales compared to running them consecutively.

Q. What’s happening with the Nexus 25 employment site?
A. Taunton Deane Borough Council has identified land near Junction 25 for a 25ha strategic employment site known as Nexus 25. Henry Boot Developments is bringing forward this scheme with the road improvements providing a vital new access road to the site. It is anticipated that work on the site will commence in early summer 2019.

Q. Is the scheme future proofed?
A. The scheme is future proofed to the best of our ability. It has been designed with the knowledge of the current planned growth to 2033, this is the best information that is available. The traffic modelling still shows some congestion in the future, however it is significantly less than if the scheme were not delivered.

Q. Will you open the Ilminster Road bus gate while works are underway?
A. No. The Ilminster Road bus gate is designed to provide a priority route into town for buses. Opening the bus gate for normal traffic would remove this and discourage people from using the park & ride which in turn would lead to more congestion. Furthermore the roads in the vicinity of the bus gate are not designed to accommodate heavy traffic and opening it to general use would encourage a huge amount of traffic and congestion in residential areas where it would be unsuitable; where children are walking and cycling to school for example.

Q. What is happening with site clearance works?
A. Site clearance works are now underway near the Gateway park & ride site. This requires the removal of a number of trees and we have worked closely with West Monkton Parish Council to remove and replant around 200 trees to the West Monkton Country Park. This work has been timed to be completed as much as possible before the bird nesting season. During the clearance works an ecologist has been on site checking each of the areas to be cleared to ensure that nesting birds have not been present. We will also be replanting more trees as part of landscaping works once the construction of the upgraded junction is complete.

Stay up to date

Check the latest on the roads by following @TravelSomerset on Twitter, or check out the live travel information on this website.

If you have any further questions or would like to sign up for scheme newsletters, please contact Public Liaison Officer Rosemarie Harrod by emailing M5J25@alungriffiths.co.uk or phone 0330 041 2184.