Report on improvements submitted to Devon County councillors includes widening road between Barnstaple and South Molton and more overtaking opportunities

Devon County councillors will be asked to prioritise an £88million phase of upgrades to the North Devon Link Road when its cabinet meets next Wednesday.

A report to the council’s cabinet recommends the widening of the stretch of the A361 running from Barnstaple to South Molton, as well as more overtaking opportunities.

In addition, a series of junction capacity improvements and safety upgrades are planned from South Molton to Bideford. Together the proposals will form an Outline Business Case to be submitted to the Government for Local Majors Bid funding.

If agreed by councillors, an Outline Business case will be submitted to the DfT by the end of the year. Construction could begin as soon as late 2020.

The results of the public consultation – which ended just days before two fatal collisions – revealed 83 per cent agree the need to improve the road. The section from Barnstaple to South Molton raised the least concern from local residents.

Devon County Council’s cabinet member for infrastructure, development and waste, Councillor Andrea Davis, said: “Thanks must go to everyone who took part in the latest consultation on the proposed improvements to the Link Road. Their feedback has helped inform the development of the scheme to get it to this stage.

“The section of the Link Road from South Molton to Barnstaple provides an important gateway to Barnstaple, Bideford and a large proportion of northern Devon.

“Local people depend on this road and the local economy needs it to be reliable, which is why it’s vital this route is improved.

“This combined with a number of junction improvements across the length of the road to Bideford provides the optimum combination of improvements for the bid to the government for funding.”

Only 10 per cent of the South Molton to Barnstaple section of the road currently has overtaking lanes, but proposed improvements would increase this to around 70 per cent. The road would continue to have a 60mph speed limit with the use of average speed cameras recommended to improve safety.

The long-term strategy includes upgrades to eight junctions along the A361 and A39, additional overtaking lanes on sections of the Link Road and an urban four lane road, with two lanes in each direction, between Portmore roundabout and Roundswell roundabout.

To improve road safety, all uncontrolled right turns would be removed for over 35km between Bish Mill junction, east of South Molton, and Buckleigh Road Junction near Bideford.

A number of suggestions raised during the consultation have been accepted in principle for inclusion in the strategy, including additional provision for pedestrians at Borner’s Bridge junction, Bishop’s Tawton and Heywood Road roundabouts.