The £93million upgrade of the North Devon Link Road has moved another step closer today (Wednesday).
Devon County Council’s cabinet has approved preliminary payouts for the improvement scheme, which became a reality after a successful bid for £83m in funding from the Government.
It also gave the go ahead to start looking at compulsory purchase of land along the route if necessary.
The next step will see the council prepare a full business case for the scheme, which will be submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT).
The funding is subject to a final decision by the DfT once a full business case has been presented by the county council.
The upgrade will widen 7.5 kilometres of the North Devon Link Road from South Molton to Barnstaple to provide more overtaking opportunities.
There will also be junction improvements and safety upgrades from South Molton to Bideford.
Today the cabinet also approved recommendations that a planning application and environmental permit should progressed for the scheme and that work is started on the acquisition of land through negotiation and/or a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO).
Where private land is needed for the route, landowners have been identified and the plans of the proposals are available to allow negotiations to take place with the county council.
A planning application is expected to be submitted in October for road widening and junction improvements on the section of the road between Portmore Roundabout and Filleigh Cutting.
Councillor Andrea Davis, cabinet member for infrastructure, development and waste, said: “Everyone is aware how important the North Devon Link Road is and many people rely on it to get to and from northern Devon.
“We’ve campaigned for funding for years and with government backing we can now bring about these improvements. We’re excited to be progressing with this scheme and we will look to take the next steps in preparing a planning application and full business case.
“Upgrading junctions and widening sections of the route to increase overtaking will improve the reliability and safety of the route for motorists.
“We are also improving the cycling and pedestrian experience in the Barnstaple and Bideford area with new crossings.”
The County Council will be able to carry out improvements to six junctions on the route as permitted development, with no need for additional permission.
A total of 29 people have lost their lives on the road since 2000.