CONTRACTORS building an inner relief road in Taunton have failed to satisfy highways bosses that it is "safe to open to the public" yet.

It is still unclear when the £22 million mile-long Northern Inner Relief Road, which is already two years overdue, will be completed.

Carillion, which is building the highway between the Staplegrove Road junction with Chip Lane and Priory Avenue, has missed a number of target completion dates.

Somerset County Council, which is putting £2.5 million towards the scheme, along with £15.2 million Government cash, is threatening Carillion with legal action for the delays.

A County Hall spokesman said: "We remain in dispute with Carillion and are doing everything we can within the terms of the contract to get the NIDR finished as soon as possible.

“Although the road may look complete, there are still a number of critical issues outstanding which must be resolved by Carillion before we are satisfied that the road is safe to open to the public.

"Until Carillion has finished its work we cannot give a completion date with any certainty.

"However, we will continue to pursue damages from the contractor for every day of delay.”

The NIDR consists of a new bridge over the River Tone and the Bridgwater to Taunton Canal in the vicinity of Priory Fields Business Park; a revamped former rail bridge over Station Road; a roundabout on Staplegrove Road; a new signal-controlled access to Taunton Station; modifications to the roundabout at Priory Avenue; the replacement of Forty Steps footbridge; and pedestrian and cycle facilities.

Meanwhile. Carillion bosses have told County Hall that scaffolding that has been in place under the disused rail bridge on Station Road will be taken down this Sunday and the following Sunday.

The completion of the NIDR is seen as key to kick-starting a multi-million pound development at Firepool.

St Modwen has lodged an outline planning application for homes, shops, and leisure facilities, including a cinema and bars and restaurants on the former livestock market riverside site.

A previous application was turned down by Taunton Deane Borough Council's planners last August.