Second strategic route for South West

Project details

Full project title: Second strategic highway route to the South West

Sponsors: South West Regional Assembly

Project Manager: Dr Kiron Chatterjee

Supporting staff: Dr Graham Parkhurst

Start date: December 2003

Finish date: April 2004

Project briefing sheet: Download the project briefing sheet document (PDF)

Project summary

The South West Regional Assembly (SWRA) awarded a contract to the Centre for Transport and Society to provide advice to assist it in responding to a Highways Agency study into options for creating a second strategic route into the South West.

South West and South Wales Multi Modal Study

The M5 is the main highway route connecting the South West of England to the rest of the country. The South West and South Wales Multi Modal Study (SWARMMS) recommended improvements to the other strategic corridor. This is the A303/A30 route which comprises a mixture of single carriageway and dual carriageway sections and experiences major congestion and journey time unreliability, particularly during holiday seasons, and high accident rates along the single carriageway sections. West of Ilminster there is the option of improving the A303 itself, which requires off-line construction in the Blackdown Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), or the option of improving the A358, which links the A303 to the M5 south of Taunton.

The SWARMMS preferred strategy included the A358 improvement option, subject to further analysis of its technical feasibility. The SWRA recommended to the Secretary of State for Transport that both the A303 and A358 be improved. The Secretary of State endorsed the improvement of one of the two routes (but not both) and asked the Highways Agency to carry out a more detailed assessment of the two options. The SWRA will have the opportunity to consider the results of the Highways Agency study, consult with regional stakeholders and respond to the Secretary of State with a recommendation on the option to take forward.

Highways Agency review

The Centre for Transport and Society is contributing to this process by carrying out a desktop study reviewing the findings of the Highways Agency study in the light of other relevant information.

This includes consideration of:-

  1. national, regional and sub-regional plans and policies
  2. past studies and recommendations
  3. the views of stakeholders
  4. additional assessments of the two options commissioned by stakeholders.