Study into A303 improvements begins

Blackdown Hills The A303 runs through the Blackdown Hills - an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

A study to improve one of the South West's main trunk roads has begun.

The A303 is the shortest route from London and the South East to the South West, but it is known for its "notorious" congestion black spots.

The government announced in June it would carry out a feasibility study and it has now published its "scoping document".

Analysis

Firmer proposals for the A303 should be known by the end of the summer.

However, the expectation is that no decisions will be taken this side of a General Election - and in any case public funding is obviously more limited than in years gone by.

The scheme will also be competing with other potential road schemes, so it won't be a quick process.

It has, however, ruled out large-scale road building in the Blackdown Hills - an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The A303 is 92 miles (148km) long and runs through five counties - Hampshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, and Devon.

One possibility could be to bring incoming traffic down a widened A303 as far as Ilminster and then send it north on the A358 - the road that joins the M5 at Taunton.

Although there will be no major road building in the Blackdowns, local councils still hope the Department for Transport may include strategically placed overtaking lanes on the hills.

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