MAJOR improvements to the North Devon Link Road could go out to consultation as early as 2015.
The plans were discussed at a meeting of the North Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee on TuesdayMarch 25 where members of both Devon County Council and North Devon Council heard possible improvements which could be made to the A361.
Transport planning officer Lewis Ward outlined where the major improvements could be seen, including the enlargement of Heywood Road roundabout in Bideford, Bishops Tawton roundabout in Barnstaple and the reconfiguring of Portmore roundabout, also in Barnstaple.
There are also possible improvements in the pipeline for a T-junction in Abbotsham Road in Bideford as well as the Landkey junction on the A361.
While many motorists have said they would like to see the A361 made into a dual carriageway, Mr Ward said the improvements would not just be about creating overtaking lanes but also about the capacity of the roads.
He told members the A361 between Roundswell and Lake currently sees up to 25,000 cars per day, and said the average speed of cars travelling between Tiverton and Barnstaple was 59mph.
“This road is a lifeline for northern Devon and to allow it to become dysfunctional is going to depress the economy and it will do us no favours,” he added.
Leader of North Devon Council and county councillor Brian Greenslade said he welcomed the fact the improvements were being discussed.
“The way the traffic flow is building up is very frustrating and I have people coming here to do business complaining about how long it takes,” he added.
Mr Greenslade said the county council could not go looking for money for upgrades until a plan was made.
“Realistically we are not going to find the funds to build a dual carriageway,” he added.
Mr Ward said study work was in the county council’s programme for the 2014/15 financial year, and a consultation would come shortly after that was completed.
Councillor Rodney Cann said with extra development being proposed around Barnstaple, the suggested improvements to the A361 “would not deal with the problem”. Mr Ward replied that creating three lane sections in some places was more affordable than a dual carriageway. He said: “In some places around Barnstaple we will have a look at putting in extra lanes.”