Major improvements to the A361/A39 North Devon Link Road could still be five years in the making, according to Devon County Council. The council has been allocated £1.5million to be released by the Department for Transport (DfT) in stages to put together a business case for improving the road. The project is currently in the development stage but assuming a bid for a share of the Governments £475million Local Majors Fund is successful, construction could start in 2021. The timetable for the work was revealed by Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, the countys cabinet member for economy and growth.He said development of the project would take place in three stages, as specified by the DfT.Stage one, which consists of data collection and traffic, environment and economic appraisals, is expected to be complete by the end of the year. This feeds into option development and initial value for money assessment before an initial sift of options is carried out, said Mr Leadbetter who was responding to a question asked by Cllr Brian Greenslade. Stage two of the project will deliver the business case for the preferred option, which will form an eventual bid to the Local Majors Fund. The final step will be the agreement of a funding package, added Mr Leadbetter. It is more than likely that the DfT will be looking for a significant contribution from the county and district councils as they did with the South Devon Link Road. Assuming this complex and heavily scrutinised process is successful, the earliest date for stage three, implementation and construction, of the project is 2021. The Gazette has launched a campaign to support plans for improving the vital A361/A39 gateway. The council said the key issue was to build up a business case that demonstrates any substantial transport improvement will have a measureable benefit to the economy of the area. Data from traffic surveys carried out last year is currently being analysed and environmental impacts on landscape, ecology, and historic buildings will be carried out as well as noise impact and landscape assessments. A detailed design is almost complete on a £1.5m upgrade of Portmore Roundabout at Barnstaple, funded through the LEP Growth Deal and private developer contributions. The council said land ownership issues needed to be resolved before work could start. Other improvements are also in the pipeline for the Heywood roundabout at Bideford; the Landkey junction; and the two right turn junctions between Abbotsham Cross and Haywood road roundabout.