BRIDGWATER'S new southern link road - this week christened Squibbers Way in a public vote - will be completed on time and on budget, the county council has pledged.

Work began in April 2018 on the Colley Lane Southern Access Road, which will connect the Colley Lane industrial estate with the A38 Taunton Road and take traffic away from the town centre in the process.

The new road, which includes new bridges over the River Parrett and the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, is being constructed by Whitemountain for Somerset County Council at a cost of more than £18m.

The council has confirmed that the road will be open in its entirety in the autumn.

Instead of using local stone as a base, the new road has a base of polystyrene blocks, which can prevent soil disturbance as a result of freezing or thawing.

As well as protecting the road – which is designed to last for 120 years – this choice of material has reduced vehicle movements between the site and local quarries, which could have exacerbated residents’ existing frustrations about traffic.

Both of the new bridges are now in place – with the council claiming the Somerset bridge over the River Parrett is the longest single-span bridge in the county, and possibly in the south west.

Work is now being concentrated at the western end of the site, near the Canalside venue and Marsh Lane, with the final stretch of road being constructed to the west of the canal.

The old swing bridge which HGVs used to cross the canal will shortly be removed and refurbished, before being transported to its new home on a canal in Gloucestershire.

Cycle provision has also been provided along the length of the route, providing a sustainable commuting option for people on the nearby Wilstock housing development and connecting the site to the wider cycling network.

Councillor John Woodman, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “It’s going to make a lot of difference, not just to the people who live around this area but also to people travelling through to Hinkley Point and so on.

“What this will do is that it will take the HGVs and lorries off of Taunton Road and Broadway. Lorries will come straight off at Junction 24, turn right at the BMW garage and then come straight into the back of Colley Lane.”

Lorries delivering materials to Hinkley Point C will continue to use Taunton Road as one of their designated routes, but the new road will reduce the amount of other HGVs and large vehicles needing to reach the industrial estate.

Mr Woodman said the new road would help to unlock land for future business growth, as well as making it easier for people living near the motorway to commute to Colley Lane or elsewhere in Bridgwater.

He said: “The road is going to open up development land along here, which will create employment.

“For the people who work in the Colley Lane area, and who live in that new estate [Wilstock] and around Junction 24, it will also help them get a much speedier, more direct route to work.”

Funding for the £18.4m scheme has come from a range of sources, with housing developers, EDF Energy and the Department for Transport all making contributions alongside the council’s own funding within its capital programme.

Mr Woodman would not commit to a specific date when the road would be completely open to traffic, but pledged the scheme would be completed on time and on budget.

He said: “It will be on time and on budget, and it will be open in the autumn of this year.”