Improvements to the North Devon Link Road are set to become a reality after a major funding boost from the Government.
The Department for Transport has today (Thursday) approved £83million of funding to pay for upgrades on the A361 between South Molton and Bideford.
The scheme, costing £93m, will see three sections of the A361 widened between Barnstaple and South Molton and provide overtaking lanes on as much as 70 per cent of the route.
It also includes upgrades to a number of junctions along the A361 and A39, removing uncontrolled right turns.
Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for infrastructure, development and waste, said: “The North Devon Link Road is a vital route for the region, and this announcement confirms that the government has recognised the issues of getting in and out of North Devon.
“The improvements to this main route will give a huge boost to our economy, the benefits will be felt by our local residents, businesses and visitors.
“We’ve worked closely with the local MP Peter Heaton-Jones and DfT officials. Devon County Council officers have been tireless in their support for this important route, and today the result of all this activity has paid off for our beautiful area of Devon.”
North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones said it was ‘a landmark day for North Devon’. He added: “Put simply, it’s brilliant news. It’s the biggest investment in our area by any government for many years.
“The Link Road has had no significant improvements since it was first built 30 years ago. It is no longer fit for purpose, with long delays and a high accident rate. It’s holding back job creation and stifling economic investment in North Devon.
“Since first being elected in 2015, I’ve made it my top priority to get something done.
“Devon County Council has done a fantastic job putting together this bid for government funding. We have worked together to make sure the Transport Secretary was fully aware of the vital importance of this project. I’ve raised it many times in Parliament, and there has been extensive lobbying behind the scenes.
“We’d asked for £83m to fund the first tranche of the project, and I was always hopeful we’d get most of it. But to get all of it is a brilliant result.
“This is proof that North Devon really is on the government’s radar in a way it hasn’t been for many, many years. I’m thrilled, and look forward to work getting underway on this project, which is vital for North Devon’s future. That future looks a lot brighter today.”
The funding comes from the Government’s Large Local Majors Fund. Council and parliamentary representatives submitted the bid back in December.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the work would ‘improve every day journeys for residents and businesses’.
“This Government is investing record amounts in our roads, spending £6 billion to improve journeys in our towns and cities and boost their economies,” said Mr Grayling.
“Devon County Council’s plans to widen the A361 will ease traffic on the road and improve every day journeys for residents and businesses in North Devon.
“Our commitment of £83.1 million to the scheme will help improve access to towns in the region.”