Bridge removal signifies end of major earthworks on the A303 Sparkford scheme
A temporary bridge used to minimise the impact of construction on motorists and residents is set to be removed next month, marking a major milestone on the A303 upgrade scheme.
National Highways first installed the temporary bridge in May to allow construction traffic to transport earth from one side of the site to the other with minimal impact to motorists using the A303.
Having been in place for 30 weeks by the time of its removal, 900,000 tonnes of earth have been moved across the bridge – the equivalent of 16 Prince of Wales bridges – marking the end of the first major stage of construction on A303 Sparkford to Ilchester scheme.
To allow for the bridge to be removed safely, the A303 will be closed between the Hazlegrove and Podimore roundabouts for the weekend, from 10pm on Friday, 11 November, to 5am on Monday, 14 November.
Clearly signed diversions will be in place via the A359 and the A37.
National Highways is working with delivery partners Galliford Try to construct the scheme.
Elliot Hayes, National Highways’ Senior Project Manager, said: “The removal of the temporary bridge marks a significant milestone for this major scheme, which is incredibly important for Somerset’s future and vital to the A303/A358 corridor.
“It’s exciting to see how work has progressed, with the major earthworks now completed with minimal disruption.
“You can now really start to see the scheme take shape and we are excited to continue pressing ahead to finalise this vital route.
“We will ensure motorists are fully informed of diversions and suggested routes via signing and the media. We advise drivers to plan ahead and allow extra time for their journeys over the weekend.”
Over the next few months, the team will be working on the two key structures of the scheme – the Steart Hill bridge and the Hazlegrove underbridge.
Steart Hill bridge is set to open to the public in the spring next year, connecting the north and south sections of the scheme.
On an average day, the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester carries 23,500 vehicles, but numbers increase significantly in the summer, particularly at weekends, making journeys unreliable and unpredictable.
With construction now under way, the upgrade is scheduled to be open to traffic in spring 2024 and you can find out more about the scheme and the construction process on National Highways’ virtual exhibition at https://nationalhighways.co.uk/our-roads/south-west/a303-sparkford-to-ilchester/