Opening of £155m A303 upgrade delayed for around six months

THE opening of the £155 million upgrade of the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester has been delayed by up to nine months.

National Highways has confirmed the scheme, which will see the route dualled and diverted in places, will now open in ‘winter 2024/2025’.

It was initially due to be completed in March next year.

The news comes after your New Blackmore Vale revealed the project was facing delays.

Now, National Highways has confirmed numerous “challenges” had led to the deadline for completion being pushed back, including the “westtest July on record”.

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.”

An aerial view of work continuing on the A303 between Ilchester and Sparkford. Picture: National Highways

An aerial view of work continuing on the A303 between Ilchester and Sparkford. Picture: National Highways

It is two years since work on the scheme started, with changes aimed at tackling congestion, improving safety and helping support increased economic prosperity in Somerset and across the South West.

National Highways said the project has already hit several milestones, with work now turning to finishing off the new road and linking it in with the existing A303 as it nears completion.

Siân added: “The A303 is a vital scheme for the South West and we have pushed ahead on this much-needed scheme, competing work so far with minimal disruption to the travelling public and local residents.

READ MORE: A303 dualling between Sparkford and Podimore facing long delays: Claim

“We’re also extremely proud of the work we have done in the community, committing thousands to projects that will help leave a positive legacy in the area.

“The upgrade will mean smoother, safer and more reliable journeys for drivers and we will build on the progress already made to deliver this new stretch of road as soon as we can.”

As part of the development, a new dualled section of the A303 will start east of Podimore Roundabout, follow the alignment of the existing road to Downhead, before moving north of the existing single carriageway, which will be kept for use as a local road.

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.

The £155m scheme between Sparkford and Ilchester will not only promote economic growth in this area of Somerset, but it will also tackle a long-standing bottleneck, reduce journey times to the South West and improve traffic flows in the area at peak times and during peak seasons.

The agency says on an average day, the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester carries 23,500 vehicles, with numbers increasing significantly in the summer.


  1. Thomas White Reply

    Will the other parts of the A303 existing single carriageway be dualled and the existing roundabouts be turned into flyovers

  2. Trevor Tuck Reply

    There is no resilience to this section of the A303, the 3 Parishes ( Sparkford, Queen Camel and West Camel) campaigned for the old A303 to be kept a a local parallel road running from Hazelgrove to Camel Cross this was ignored as was the recommendation by the Inspector at the public enquiry to look again at the poor design of the Hazelgrove Underpass.

  3. Trevor Tuck Reply

    Why is there no weekend working on this project, at the rate of construction it won’t be open until Summer 2025.

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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.