PICTURES released by National Highways give a bird’s eye view of the £155million Sparkford-Ilchester upgrade works.

Two years since work started, progress on the scheme to tackle congestion, improve safety and support increased economic prosperity in Somerset and the region, is clear in these aerial pictures.

The project has hit several milestones and will involve finishing off the new road and linking it in with the existing A303 next year.

Key achievements include:

  • Five new attenuation ponds to help with drainage;
  • Installing the Steart Hill and Hazlegrove bridge decks – weighing a combined 1,673 tonnes;
  • Laying over 7.5 miles of drainage piping;
  • Installing the Hazlegrove underpass to connect Camel Hill with Sparkford and Queen Camel;
  • Installing more than 300 bird, bat, dormouse and owl boxes, to support wildlife relocation;
  • 10 archaeological digs.

National Highways has invested more than £21,000 in community projects through its social value fund, including:

  • new cricket nets for Babcary Cricket Club;
  • refurbishing the guide posts at Marston Magna;
  • new equipment at Queen Camel playing fields.

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

“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.”

She added: “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 quickly as possible and as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

The Sparkford to Ilchester upgrade will provide a three-mile dual carriageway link on the A303, including new and replacement slip roads, junctions and road bridges.

The new dualled section will start east of Podimore Roundabout, follow the alignment of the existing A303 to Downhead, and then move north of the existing A303 single carriageway, allowing the existing road to be kept for use as a local road in this section.

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.