New section of revamped A303 to open this month: Here’s what is changing

A NEW section of the A303 will open this month – as work on the delayed dualling project continues – but the route will be closed first.

National Highways has announced the next step in the project, between Sparkford and Ilchester, will see a new section of the eastbound carriageway open to drivers.

On Saturday, January 20, people travelling east and westbound between just east of Podimore roundabout and Steart Hill, will be using the new eastbound carriageway of the A303.

The traffic switch is to allow National Highways to carry out the next stage of work, and comes after a full closure of the A303 between the Podimore and Sparkford roundabouts from 9pm on Friday, January 19 to 6am on January 20.

From that day, eastbound traffic on the A303 will travel from Podimore roundabout and follow traffic management to take them on to the new eastbound carriageway of the A303.

Meanwhile, westbound traffic on the A303 will switch from the westbound carriageway at Steart Hill and run temporarily on the new eastbound carriageway of the A303.

Local traffic will have different entry and exit points to the A303.

The newly-built Steart Hill overbridge will be open, connecting the community of Downhead to villages south of the A303, while there will no longer be access on to or off of the A303 from Steart Hill.

How the changes will work from January 20. Picture: National Highways

How the changes will work from January 20. Picture: National Highways

“We understand roadworks and changes in road layout can be frustrating, so we’ve communicated the traffic switch well in advance to local communities and residents that are most impacted,” a National Highways spokesperson said.

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

The £150 million project to dual the A303 between Sprkford and Ilchester has been beset by problems in recent months.

In September last year, your New Blackmore Vale exclusively revealed the scheme was facing long delays due to bad weather.

Then, the following month, National Highways confirmed the new route was facing delays of up to six months – opening in ‘Winter 2024/2025’.

READ MORE: A303 dualling scheme between Sparkford and Podimore facing long delays
READ MORE: Opening of £155m A303 upgrade delayed for around six months

Confirming the delay Siân Hopkins, senior project manager for National Highways, said: “Unfortunately, the scheme has been delayed, not only due to significant periods of bad weather, but also the discovery of protected species on the site.

“This has caused delays in site clearance, earthworks and other activities, over the past two years.

“We apologise for the delay but can reassure you we are working hard to open the road as quicky as possible and as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

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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.