A TEMPORARY bridge is being installed over a Somerset road to reduce impact during an upgrade scheme.

National Highways engineers working on the A303 Sparkford to Ilchester project are putting in the structure over the A303 to keep construction traffic off the main road.

It will ensure construction traffic transporting earth from one side of the site to the other doesn’t impact motorists using the A303.

The temporary bridge will be in place for 35 weeks to complete the earthworks for the scheme.

A 200-tonne crane will be used to lift a new bridge into place from May 13-16 as part of work to ensure the building of the scheme has minimal impact for road users and residents.

The A303 will be closed between the Hazlegrove and Podimore roundabouts for the weekend, from 10pm on Friday, May 13, to 5am on Monday, May 16, to enable the key work, which will see bridge beams, decking and other infrastructure lifted into place at Steart Hill.

The weather-dependent installation will involve the crane manoeuvring three bridge beams into place and installing the decking throughout Saturday and Sunday.

During the weekend closures, clearly signed diversions will be in place via the A359 and the A37.

National Highways is working with delivery partners Galliford Try to deliver the scheme, and Hannah Sanderson, National Highways’ programme manager, said: “The temporary bridge installation marks a significant milestone for this major scheme, which is incredibly important for Somerset’s future and vital to the A303/A358 corridor.

“It’s exciting how work is progressing, and this temporary haulage bridge means we can minimise disruption throughout the build.

“We will ensure motorists are fully informed of diversions and suggested routes via signing and the media.

"We advise drivers to plan ahead and allow extra time for their journeys over the weekend.”

On an average day, the A303 between Sparkford and Ilchester carries 23,500 vehicles, but numbers increase significantly in the summer, particularly at weekends, making journeys unreliable and unpredictable.

With construction now under way, the upgrade is scheduled to be open to traffic in spring 2024.

You can find out more about the scheme and the construction process on National Highways’ virtual exhibition at https://highwaysengland.co.uk/our-work/south-west/a303-sparkford-to-ilchester/