Plans to unlock economic growth in the south west by creating a new motorway took a step forward today.
Highways England announced the preferred option for the new junction on the M49, which is part of the government’s £15 billion road investment programme.
The junction will improve road access and provide a much needed connection into the Avonmouth and Severnside Enterprise Area from the motorway network.
Featuring a two bridge junction design, the proposal uses the existing bridge at Farm Lane with a second bridge being built immediately adjacent.
The two bridges will be incorporated into a single roundabout that spans the motorway with new access and exit slip roads built on both sides of the junction so that it connects fully with both northbound and southbound traffic.
Highways England South West Regional Director Andrew Page-Dove said: “We recognise the strategic importance of the Avonmouth and Severnside Enterprise Area as a key regional employment site and that is why we are helping to unlock economic growth in the area by building this new junction.
“Over the last few months we have worked hard to identify the best possible design for the junction and we are excited to share our plans with local stakeholders, businesses and the community.
“As well as boosting the local economy, the junction will also improve access to the regional road network and relieve traffic on local roads.
“Three design options were shortlisted for the scheme and these were presented at an information event in July 2016, where members of the public, businesses and stakeholders were invited to give feedback. Highways England also worked closely with the local community before deciding on the preferred design.”
Simon Tothill, Property and Development Director for Robert Hitchins Ltd, who own the Westagte 296-acre employment site with Harrow Estates plc, said: “This will be a huge boost to the local economy and is a very welcome investment by Highways England.
“It will change the profile of Westgate dramatically, and unlock a large and incredibly well located site which, already benefits from planning permission, for employment uses. It opens the door to significant economic activity and will provide for thousands of new jobs.
“The design of the Farm Lane Two Bridge option will now be taken forward and will involve the detailed design of the new layout including drainage requirements, pedestrian, cyclist and equestrian access, as well as environmental improvements.”
Subject to statutory approval under the Highways Act 1980 and approval from the Secretary of State, construction is planned to start by the end of 2017.
Another information event will be held before construction starts to ensure everyone understands details of the final proposal and the associated construction programme. The estimated cost of the scheme is £45 million.