PLANS to dual a key route through Somerset may need a rethink after concerns were raised about the design of several junctions.

National Highways (formerly Highways England) recently concluded an official consultation on its plans to dual the A358 between Taunton and Ilminster, including live events which were attended by more than 600 people.

Somerset County Council has published its formal response to the consultation, stating it “strongly supports” dualling the road to ease congestion and cut journey times through Somerset.

However, it has raised concerns about several of the new junctions, which will need to be addressed before a public inquiry into the scheme due in 2022.

The consultation concluded on November 22, with the council submitting its response to National Highways before the deadline and subsequently publishing it in full on its website.

Andy Coupé, the council’s strategic manager for infrastructure programmes, said: “If designed appropriately, the scheme will improve connectivity and access to the south west region, improve the resilience of the strategic road network and help to promote economic growth in the region.”

Despite this general support, the council has raised a number of concerns about the different junctions which will connect existing local roads to the new dual carriageway.

Chard & Ilminster News:

Its main concerns are as follows:

  • The Mattock’s Tree Green junction design: the Mattock’s Tree Green junction will connect the dualled A358 to the A378 leading to Langport, replacing the current signal-controlled T-junction. The council is concerned about the design of the junction, especially the road leading to Hatch Beauchamp and the provision for non-motorised road users.
  • The road into Henlade: the A358 briefly runs as a dual carriageway between the junction with the A378 and the village of Henlade. The council has sought clarity on whether this stretch of dual carriageway will be retained following the construction, arguing it should be replaced with a two-way road for local residents to avoid “unnecessary future maintenance and antisocial behaviour”.
  • New link between Capland Lane and Village Road: the most recent designs do not include a link between these two roads near Hatch Beauchamp – which locals believe will leave the village cut off in the event of flooding. The council wants to “engage” with National Highways’ engineers to “rreview the flooding issues and what measures might need to be taken”.
  • Provision for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians: the council welcomes the creation of a new cycle route between Taunton and Ilminster, allowing the scheme to not only cater for motorists. However, its officers warn that this new route will require “grade separated junctions” to keep cyclists safe and must take account of increases in traffic speeds and volumes in key areas.
  • The Southfields roundabout: during the A303 dualling inquiry, there was much discussion over how equestrians would be able to cross the Sparkford roundabout once construction was finished. The council has asked for clarity over whether horseriders will be able to access the Southfields roundabout from either side, arguing: “every effort should be made… to improve the situation for all users”.