SITE clearance is being carried out ahead of a £19.2 million project that will ease traffic congestion and bring thousands of jobs to Taunton.

Work will start next month on improvements to Junction 25 of the M5 that will increase the capacity of the roundabout on the outskirts of the town.

It aims to cut daily peak hour congestion in and out of Taunton and to avoid vehicles backing up onto the motorway.

Ahead of that, people and businesses have the chance to view and comment on detailed plans at drop in events at Ruishton Village Hall on Thursday, March 7 and 14 from 3pm to 8pm.

The upgrade involves signalisation and enlarging the roundabout, widening of the eastern exit, a new roundabout to access the proposed Nexus 25 employment site and safer pedestrian and cycling facilities.

Somerset County Gazette:

The scheme has been developed by Somerset County Council along with allocated funding from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal Fund, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Highways England and developer contributions.

Developers admit there will inevitably be disruption to motorists, although they aim to keep that to a minimum by carrying out much of the work overnight.

Count Hall leader Cllr David Fothergill said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for Taunton because it opens up a whole new employment site which will generate hundreds of jobs and really kickstart the economy in the area.

"It will make it much easier to get into Taunton on the A358 once the work is done - we've all queued for years to get to J25 and it's great to see this work being brought forward.

"It will be two years of disruption. We're very conscious of the impact upon the local communities, but it's work that needs to be done to enhance the junction to relieve traffic congestion and open up the employment site."

Cllr John Williams, leader of Taunton Deane Borough Council, said: "This is one of the many things that take a long time to come to fruition, but that doesn't mean to say we're not planning and investing for the future of Taunton.

"This is clearly evident of that step forward and will assist in mitigating the legendary traffic problems around J25 and better still it will herald the start of Nexus 25, which will bring thousands of great jobs to Taunton.

Simon Dunn, of contractor Alun Griffiths, said: "We've started site clearance, drop-in sessions with member of the public and local businesses to explain what we're doing and to get feedback by listening to concerns and fine tuning the programme.

"Traffic management will start in April at J25. The roundabout will be down to one lane at night time.

"The work will take two years until 2021. It's a complex scheme largely because of traffic management and disruption."

The work has been planned to run alongside future planned improvements at the Creech Castle junction on Toneway - the scheme is currently being developed and is expected to begin in 2020.