A TEMPORARY bridge is being installed from tomorrow (Friday, May 13) over a Somerset road to reduce impact during an upgrade scheme.

A 200-tonne crane will lift the bridge beams, decking and other infrastructure into place over the A303 at Steart Hill between Friday evening (May 13) and early Monday morning(May 16).

National Highways engineers working on the A303 Sparkford to Ilchester project are putting in the structure to keep construction traffic off the main road, ensuring the project has minimal impact for road users and residents.

It will be in place to ensure construction traffic transporting earth from one side of the site to the other doesn’t impact motorists using the A303.

The temporary bridge will be in place for 35 weeks to complete the earthworks for the scheme.

The A303 will be closed between the Hazlegrove and Podimore roundabouts for the weekend, from 10pm on Friday, May 13, to 5am on Monday, May 16 while the bridge is lifted into position.

The weather-dependent installation will involve the crane manoeuvring three bridge beams into place and installing the decking throughout Saturday and Sunday.

During the weekend closures, clearly signed diversions will be in place via the A359 and the A37.

National Highways is working with delivery partners Galliford Try to deliver the scheme, and Hannah Sanderson, National Highways’ programme manager, said: “The temporary bridge installation marks a significant milestone for this major scheme, which is incredibly important for Somerset’s future and vital to the A303/A358 corridor.

“It’s exciting how work is progressing, and this temporary haulage bridge means we can minimise disruption throughout the build.

“We will ensure motorists are fully informed of diversions and suggested routes via signing and the media.

"We advise drivers to plan ahead and allow extra time for their journeys over the weekend.”

On an average day, the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester carries 23,500 vehicles, but numbers increase significantly in the summer, particularly at weekends, making journeys unreliable and unpredictable.

With construction now under way, the upgrade is scheduled to be open to traffic in spring 2024.

You can find out more about the scheme and the construction process on National Highways’ virtual exhibition at https://highwaysengland.co.uk/our-work/south-west/a303-sparkford-to-ilchester/