Works start on Taunton's new crucial new A38 crossing - which will be finished in time for Flower show

Work to create a new pedestrian crossing on one of Taunton's busiest roads will be finished in time for the town's annual flower show, Somerset Council has promised. Work began on Monday morning (May 13) on relocating the existing pedestrian crossing on the A38 Upper High Street, moving it several yards to the east in front of the easily recognisable gates to Vivary Park.

The work - which is being paid for using the government's future high streets fund - will be carried out under a mixture of narrow lanes and temporary traffic lights, with the council originally predicting it would take until August 9 to complete the project. But officers have promised that, weather permitting, the new crossing will be completed in time for the Taunton Flower Show, which is held within the park on August 2 and 3.

Officers gave this assurance at a public drop-in event about the scheme which was held at Taunton Library on Wednesday afternoon (May 8), with one official stating that the final week of the work was "contingency" in the event of inclement weather or other disruptions. They added that the flower show organisers had been closely consulted during the planning of the roadworks to ensure minimal disruption in the build-up to the event.

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During the first few weeks of the closure, the road will remain completely open as normal but with narrower lanes being in place in each direction. Temporary traffic lights will be introduced at a later phase, with the lights being in place to the west of the existing junction with Mount Street.

A temporary pedestrian crossing will be in place throughout the construction period, ensuring locals and visitors can still move between the park and the pedestrianised High Street. In the initial phase, the existing crossing will be used as a temporary crossing point, but the temporary crossing will thereafter be relocated as needed depending upon which section of the road is being worked upon.

There will be evening and overnight road closures towards the end of the scheme for final resurfacing of the road. The final crossing will be in position directly opposite the gates, forming part of a new active travel route linking the park to Taunton railway station via the Coal Orchard and Firepool regeneration sites. There will, however, still be room for vehicles to enter and exit the pedestrianised area to make deliveries.

Cllr Richard Wilkins, portfolio holder for transport and digital, stated in late-April: "We are pleased to see this much-needed improvement work taking place on this very busy crossing.

"We are aware there could be some disruption at peak traffic times - the team will do their best to minimise this. Ultimately we will have a much better positioned pedestrian crossing and state-of-the-art replacement traffic lights."

The existing crossing on the A38 Upper High Street in Taunton
The existing crossing on the A38 Upper High Street in Taunton

The crossing is one of a series of walking and cycling improvements being funded by the future high streets fund, with Somerset West and Taunton Council being awarded £13.9m back in December 2020. Somerset Council has not yet confirmed how much of the remaining grant will be spent on the crossing - though it did previously confirm that £2,257,398 had been set aside for walking and cycling improvements, along with £1,250,000 for the completion of the Coal Orchard site (also known as Riverside).

The remaining £10,455,583 was allocated to the Firepool site, of which around half has already been spent. Around £3m will be spent this year delivering the northern boulevard linking the Firepool site to the railway station via the A3087 Trenchard Way, with the southern boulevard (linking it to existing cycle routes along the River Tone) to follow later in the year.