More than £6m from cancelled HS2 to be spent on Somerset's roads

The junction of the A39 Westway and Farm Road in Street
The junction of the A39 Westway and Farm Road in Street -Credit:Google Maps

More than £6m from the cancelled leg of the High Speed 2 rail project will be spent on improving Somerset's roads over the next 12 months. Prime minister Rishi Sunak MP announced the cancellation of the high speed link between Birmingham and Manchester in October 2023, with the funding being reallocated to other transport projects across the UK.

In addition to funding the delivery of the new Wellington railway station (which is due to open in June 2026), some of the money is being provided to Somerset Council for road improvements schemes - including resurfacing work and fixing potholes. The council has now confirmed a number of schemes which will be going ahead as a result of this funding, with further details expected to be announced in due course.

Transport secretary Mark Harper MP announced in mid-November 2023 that, as a result of the HS2 decision, an extra £800m would be spent on road repairs across the south west. This funding will be divided across local authorities across the region, with Somerset Council receiving more than £3.5m of additional funding for 2023/24 and 2024/25.

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The council commented at the time that this additional funding would only have a "minimal" impact due to high inflation within the construction industry. Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt MP announced in his 2023 budget that the council would be provided with nearly £5m of additional highways maintenance and pothole repair funding.

Officers have now confirmed that £4,543,000 of the 2023/24 funding was spent within that financial year, with the remainder being carried over - meaning there is £6,092,000 available for schemes up to April 2025. Of the £4,543,000 spent before April 2024, £2m was allocated for pothole repairs, with more than 16,800 being fixed across the county.

The A361 High Street in Othery
The A361 High Street in Othery

A total of £517,159 was targeted at resurfacing the most potholed roads in the county, including the B3090 Marston Road and Selwood Road in Frome, with a further £273,645 being spent on patching work in areas with multiple potholes in close proximity. An additional £1,336,896 was spent on "structural maintenance surfacing work", including at the A37 Whitstone Road in Shepton Mallet and the A39 Puriton Hill in Bawdrip, near Bridgwater.

The remaining £415,300 was spent on more minor resurfacing work, such as at the Cross Keys roundabout on the A358 between Taunton and Norton Fitzwarren.

Of the £6,092,000 of additional funding made available to the council for the next 12 months, £1,472,000 will be spent specifically on resurfacing schemes - including one at the A361 High Street in Othery, which links Taunton to numerous villages on the Somerset Levels.

The junction of the A39 Westway and Clarks Village in Street
The junction of the A39 Westway and Clarks Village in Street

A further £3.5m will be divided between three schemes to upgrade traffic signals at key junctions in the former Mendip district - namely:

The junction of the A37 Whitstone Road and the A361 Charlton Road in Shepton Mallet
The junction of the A37 Whitstone Road and the A361 Charlton Road in Shepton Mallet

A spokesman said: "This funding enables a resilient and well-maintained road network for routes between areas of economic activity to support movement of goods and people with associated economic growth and prosperity. It reduces the likelihood of damage to vehicles or other harm arising from safety defects.

"The funding also offsets impact of construction industry inflation (currently at around five per cent), enabling schemes to proceed that would otherwise have been deferred to later years." Of the remaining funding, £180,000 will go towards additional structural repairs (such as bridges) and £940,000 be spent on upgrading the remote signal monitoring network (which allows the council to detect faults at traffic lights and commission repairs accordingly).

This final sum may be recycled back into the programme if a separate bid for government funding proves successful later in the year. Further details of the confirmed roadworks, including details of any road closures and diversions, will be confirmed in due course on the council's official roadworks portal, which can be viewed by visiting