A MULTI-million pounds raft of measures aimed at making it easier to get on and off the motorway at Taunton look set to be approved today (Thursday).

The £18 million scheme being discussed by Somerset County Council's regulation committee would cut traffic jams at the over-capacity Junction 25 and stop vehicles backing up onto the M5 as motorists try to get off at the county town.

A planning application, recommended for approval, includes:

  • enlarging and widening the J25 roundabout, with an additional lane;
  • widening Toneway for 200 metres from the roundabout towards Taunton;
  • a 300-metre dual carriageway linking the roundabout to a new bridge over Blackbrook;
  • a roundabout on the south western side of Gateway Park and Ride;
  • reconfigured exit routes from the park and ride;
  • reconfiguring the Ruishton Lane/A358 junction and constructing a A358 westbound link to the new roundabout.

The work will be funded by the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal Fund, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Somerset County Council and developer contributions.

TDBC leader Cllr John Williams has just agreed the previously approved release of £1.5 million match funding towards the project from cash the council receives for new homes built in the district.

Mr Williams said: "The release of £1.5 million towards the J25 improvement scheme reaffirms our commitment to using the New Homes Bonus towards growth and development.

"New Homes Bonus is awarded on the basis of our housing growth, so it's only right it's used for major infrastructure projects such as this to improve our road system.

"These improvements are important for the long-term connectivity and economy of Taunton representing a significant opportunity to bring new business and investment to the county town.

"The J25 funding is part of the £16.6 million already budgeted by the council for a major economic investment programme over five years."

The scheme, backed by the Government with £12.9 million Growth Deal cash, would reduce traffic congestion on a hotspot on the strategic road network, improving connectivity and creating wider economic benefits for Taunton and Somerset.

It would also create an access road into the proposed Nexus 25 strategic employment site, which could attract more than 3,000 jobs.

When the planning application was submitted last year, a County Hall spokesman said the project would ensure the M5 junction was "fit for the town's future growth".

A report accompanying the application says the scheme is needed due to lack of capacity on the M5 off slip road for southbound traffic; queues and delays on the A358 from Ilminster; and tailbacks on leaving Blackbrook Business Park and on Toneway out of Taunton.