Taunton’s new Northern Inner Distributor Road (NIDR) is set to open to traffic tomorrow (Tuesday).
The multi-million pound scheme provides a new link from Priory Avenue to Staplegrove Road and will unlock valuable development land and tackle congestion in the town.
The scheme is being delivered by contractors Carillion on behalf of Somerset County Council and has been substantially delayed. Now that Carillion has completed all the critical works, the County Council is planning to take over the site and open the road tomorrow, in time for the evening rush hour.
Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “This is a key project for Taunton which will unlock the Firepool site for development and help to ease congestion across the town.
“The economic and travel time benefits are important for all of us and I hope the town’s motorists will find this a real improvement.
“The delays have been frustrating but I’m very pleased to share the long-awaited news that the road will be opening tomorrow. Many thanks for your patience.”
The council has assessed the road as being fit to open but, as is normal with any major road scheme, there will be minor defects to be resolved by the contractor over the next month. The new junctions will also be monitored and the operation of the traffic lights optimised to ensure they are working as efficiently as possible.
Cllr Woodman added: “Our priority is to open the road as soon as we possibly can, so that means there are still some minor finishing works to complete. All new roads and junctions take a bit of getting used to, so please approach with extra care for the first few weeks while traffic flows settle down.”
In October 2016, Somerset County Council announced it was in dispute with Carillion over the delivery of the scheme.
Cllr Woodman added: “We know people still have a lot of questions, but while we remain in dispute we have to do what is best for the taxpayer – and that means not commenting on contractual or commercial matters at this time.
“What I can say is that I share the public’s frustrations. We’ve done everything we can to get the road open and we’ll continue to pursue the contractor for damages.”
The NIDR provides a new east-west link across Taunton which should ease congestion along Greenway Road, Priorswood Road and in the town centre. It will also provide access to land at Firepool where there are ambitious plans for a riverside business, residential and shopping development.
The scheme includes:
- Construction of the new Firepool Bridge over the River Tone and canal.
- Replacement of the historic Kingston Loop Bridge over Station Road.
- Replacement of the 40 Steps footbridge over the railway at Chip Lane.
- Construction of approximately 1.6km of new carriageway together with the realignment of a further 150 metres of carriageway.
- Construction of a new junction at Chip Lane / Staplegrove Road.
- Improvements to the existing Priory Bridge Road / Priory Avenue / Priory Park junction.
- The provision of pedestrian and cycle facilities.