A303 weekend road closure planned ahead of new sections opening

MORE new sections of the upgraded A303 in Somerset will be put into use this month – after a complete weekend closure.

More sections of the road will be opened as the Sparkford to Ilchester dualling scheme continues.

To allow for National Highways to carry out the next stage of the work, changes in the layout of the road around the Steart Hill Junction and Gason Lane, known as Wales embankment, are needed.

Workers need to move traffic onto the newly-built westbound carriageway to allow space to build the new eastbound route.

Changes on the A303 include:

Eastbound traffic will switch onto a single lane of the new westbound carriageway at Steart Hill through to Gason Lane and then back onto the existing A303;
Westbound traffic will switch from the existing A303 westbound carriageway at Gason Lane and run temporarily on a single lane of the new westbound carriageway, before switching to run temporarily on the eastbound carriageway of the new A303 after Steart Hill.

Weather permitting, the changes will happen under a full weekend closure of the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester, running from 9pm on Friday, April 19, and 6am on Monday, April 22.

During the closure, access will remain for residents, with a signed diversion in place for all other traffic.

Westbound A303 traffic will be directed to join the A359 at the Sparkford roundabout, travelling to Yeovil to pick up the A37 and rejoining the A303 north of Ilchester. Eastbound A303 traffic will follow the diversion in reverse.

Siân Hopkins, National Highways’ senior project manager for the A303 Sparkford scheme, said: “We appreciate the A303 is a well-used road, and we are keeping disruption to an absolute minimum.

“We understand roadworks and changes in road layout can be frustrating, but we’ve communicated the traffic switch well in advance to local communities.

“We’re ensuring access is maintained for residents and businesses, and we’ll be keeping people fully informed as we continue to progress with the scheme.

“We thank people in advance for their co-operation and patience and in the meantime, we advise drivers to plan ahead and allow a little extra time for their journeys during this work.”

READ MORE: How technology is speeding up the A303 dualling project in Somerset
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To ensure the works can be carried out safely, new speed limits will be in place along the section of altered road.

Locations where the layout requires traffic to cross between the existing and new carriageway will have a lower speed limit, 30mph instead of 50mph, and will be signposted.

This is the second traffic switch for users of the road following changes to the layout in January between Yeovilton Junction and Steart Hill.

Users were moved to the eastbound carriageway to allow the westbound carriageway to be built, work that has now been complete, and included the opening of the Steart Hill overbridge.

More traffic switches will take place throughout the year, National Highways said, as the scheme looks towards completion in winter 2024/25.

The A303 Sparkford to Ilchester upgrade will provide a three-mile dual carriageway link on the A303 through Somerset, including new and replacement slip roads, junctions and road bridges.

The new dualled section will start east of Podimore Roundabout, follow the alignment of the existing A303 to Downhead, and then move north of the existing A303 single carriageway, allowing the existing road to be kept for use as a local road in this section.

The route will rise up West Camel Hill before crossing over the existing A303 at the junction with Steart Hill/Howell Hill and meet up with the existing road again between Vale Farm and the Ministry of Defence signal station at Eyewell/Traits Land.

The final section of the route bypasses the existing Hazlegrove Roundabout to the north through the Registered Park and Garden associated with Hazlegrove House, before tying into the existing A303 Sparkford Bypass.

On an average day, the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester carries 23,500 vehicles, but numbers increase significantly in the summer, particularly at weekends.

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.