News of Government funding to improve the North Devon Link Road has been likened to Christmas week for the region.
The Department for Transport has committed £83.1million to upgrading and improving the A361 between South Molton and Bideford.
The package of improvements put forward by Devon Couty Council includes widening three sections of the road and providing overtaking lanes on as much of 70 per cent of the journey from Barnstaple to South Molton.
Junctions will also be upgraded, removing uncontrolled right turns.
Brian Greenslade, county councillor for Barnstaple North, said: “This must be Christmas week for North Devon, firstly the announcement of the Tour of Britain coming to Barnstaple again and within two days the £83million funding from Government to improve the Link Road.
“As a long term critic of the Link Road and campaigner for improvements, obviously I am delighted at this news and am pleased that in terms of the Tour of Britain event and the Link Road improvements that Devon County Council has been the leading player in delivering this good news for North Devon.
“Improving the Link Road will be of great help in terms of regenerating the economy and also in terms of road safety.
“It is a shame that the design of the Link Road was not fit for purpose in the first place and so many tragic accidents have taken place over the near 30 years of its existence.”
Leader of North Devon Council, Des Brailey added: “This is a great result for Devon County Council and for North Devon as a whole. Improvements to the Link Road are long overdue and will be essential if we are to meet our economic development potential.
“We need this kind of investment in our infrastructure to allow us to grow and flourish as a district. Huge thanks to our MP Peter-Heaton Jones and our county councillor, Andrea Davis for all the hard work they have put in to make this happen.”
Opening up North Devon
NDC’s member for economic development and regeneration, Councillor Pat Barker also commented: “This investment is a massive boost for us – it will make North Devon more attractive to businesses, open up more outside investment in the area and improve job prospects and prosperity. If it’s good for business, then it’s good for North Devon.
“Our economic development team has been supporting this project throughout and we look forward to continuing to work closely with Devon County Council as the scheme develops. I would like to thank our MP Peter Heaton-Jones for his constant lobbying, without which I feel sure we wouldn’t have had such a good result.”
Torridge MP Geoffrey Cox said the upgrades would directly benefit residents and businesses in his constituency.
“I am delighted the Government has recognised the powerful case for investing substantial sums of money to upgrade the North Devon Link Road,” he said.
“The £93.1 million funding to make improvements to this major route will make a real difference to the great many drivers who rely on it.
“The upgrades will directly benefit residents and businesses in Torridge by relieving pressures on the road, improving driver safety, providing safer access and reducing journey times.
“This funding has been secured following intense lobbying behind the scenes and I congratulate Councillor Andrea Davis and Peter Heaton Jones MP for the effort they put into securing this investment for our region.
“When we met the Secretary of State for Transport in December to present our bid for a share of the Government’s Large Local Majors Fund, I pressed upon him just how vital these changes are to improving the economy of Torridge and North Devon and the wider region and I am pleased that our compelling case was heard and has been acted upon by this Government.”
Social media reaction
Gazette readers have taken to Facebook to add their views. Gord Douglas said: ‘Not enough, it needs to be dual all way from Tivvy to Barny’.
And Trish Franklin posted: ‘Good start about time. Money is always ploughed into South Devon we are left as the poor relations here in North Devon’