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The A303 is a trunk road in Englandmarker. It is the main road between Basingstokemarker in Hampshire and Honitonmarker in Devonmarker. The M3, the A303 and the A30 together make up one of the main routes from Londonmarker to South West England, running from London to Land's Endmarker in Cornwallmarker. It is a primary A road throughout its length.

The A303 is subject to several upgrade proposals, some of which have been controversial.Despite being a primary route to southwestern England, the A303 is not frequently congested (except in the summer holiday season) as the recommended route to Exeter is the M4 and the M5. However, congestion is frequently reported on the route's single carriageway sections.

History

The A303 was created out of a renumbering of several different routes to provide a long bypass for through traffic for a section of the A30, though parts of the route, such as the section past Stonehenge have been a right of way for people, wagons, and later vehicles for centuries. Running from the M3 motorway towards the south west of England these were:

Section Old Classification
A33 to Bullington Cross Unclassified roads, later B3379 to Micheldever and B3049 thereon
Bullington Cross to Andover B3049
Andover to Stonehenge A344
Stonehenge Wincanton to Ilchester B3090, later A3036
Ilchester bypass at Podimore B3150, later A372 until bypass built
Ilchester to South Petherton A3036
South Petherton to Ilminster A358
Ilminster to Marsh B3169, later A3079
Marsh to A30 B3170 later A3079


Since the designation of this route, various bypasses have been built.

Route

The A303 starts at the M3 motorway south of Basingstokemarker at Junction 8, as a dual carriageway. It heads south west, crossing the A34 road near Bullingtonmarker before passing south of Andovermarker. It passes Amesburymarker on a bypass. The route then becomes single carriageway before passing Stonehengemarker. After Winterbourne Stokemarker the route once again becomes dual carriageway, meeting the A36 at Deptford. There is then another section of single carriageway road, before a further section of dual 2 lane road near Berwick St Leonardmarker. It enters a valley through the village of Chicklademarker. From here it follows the terrain up to Meremarker, where it runs north of the town as another dual carriageway bypass. Continuing west it passes south of Wincantonmarker and then north of Sparkfordmarker to a roundabout where the road reverts once more to single carriageway. At Yeoviltonmarker the road becomes dual 2 lane again, and connects with the A37 which joins until the end of the bypass. This final section of dual carriageway ends at South Pethertonmarker. It runs north of Ilminstermarker where it meets the A358 road. After this, the route is more south westerly through the Blackdown Hillsmarker, as a narrow road following the contours of the land. It then joins the A30 where it ends. Between Ilchester, and Shores Bridge (over the River Parrett, east of South Pethertonmarker the road follows the course of the Roman Fosse Way



Map of Route



Proposed improvements

A substantial proportion of the road is of dual carriageway construction, with intervening sections of single carriageway road. The Highways Agency has had plans for several years to upgrade the rest of the route to dual carriageway, however none of these are currently under construction.

A303 Stonehenge Improvement

The most controversial of these was the Stonehenge road tunnel, where the road passes alongside the Stonehengemarker World Heritage Site. On 5 June 2003, 7.7 miles (12.5 km) of improvements, including the proposed 1.3 mile (2.1 km) bored Stonehenge road tunnel under land adjacent to Stonehengemarker were announced by the Secretary of State for Transport as part of a wider announcement of road improvements. A public enquiry into whether the plans were adequate was announced; it concluded that they were, despite protests from charities and landowners that the tunnel should be longer. On 31 October 2005 it was announced that there was to be a review of the options for Stonehenge, starting in January 2006 as costs had doubled. The government cancelled the whole scheme in December 2007.

A303/A358 South Petherton to M5 Taunton

In November 2004 plans to improve the route through the Blackdown Hills - an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - were abandoned in favour of upgrading the A358 from Ilminster to the M5 motorway at Tauntonmarker to reduce traffic west of Ilminster. Also incorporating plans to widen the Illminster bypass from South Pethertonmarker to a dual 2 lane road, these were subject of a public consultation in March 2007 but were shelved in 2009 when it was concluded that the dualling could not be funded from the Regional Funding Allocation for the South West.

Other Schemes

A number of other schemes along the A303 were considered, but then cancelled in 1998

  • A30/A303 Marsh Honiton and A35 Honiton Eastern Bypass
  • A303 Ilminster Bypass Improvement
  • A303 Ilminster to Marsh Improvement
  • A303 Sparkford to Ilchester Improvement
  • A303 Wylye-Stockton Wood Improvement
  • A303 Chicklade Bottom-Mere Improvement


The schemes were remitted to the London to South West and South Wales Multi-Modal Study (SWARMMS), the conclusion of the report was that all of the schemes east of Ilminstermarker should go ahead and that to avoid building a dual carriageway through the Blackdown Hills the A358 should be upgraded to the M5 motorway at Tauntonmarker. As of 2009 none are considered to be regional priorities so no other improvements are likely to be funded before 2019.

The road in pop culture

Kula Shaker performed their first impromptu gig at the Glastonbury Festivalmarker, which can be reached via the A303. They used this as the title of their song 303 on the album K. It was also mentioned in the Levellers' song Battle of the Beanfield, about the attack by police on travellers celebrating the Solstice at Stonehenge (1 June, 1995): "Down the '303 at the end of the road, Flashing lights, exclusion zones".

In an episode of the popular BBC comedy panel show Mock The Week, comedian John Oliver responded to the prompt "Things A Frenchman would never say" with "My favourite road, now that's got to be the A303. In many ways it's quicker than the M4, and you get to go past Stonehenge. If you're going along to the West Country it's the A303 for me every time. What a road, what a road!"

References

  1. http://www.swarmms.org.uk/documents/PLAN%20Lon-Exe%20corr%20v2.pdf
  2. http://southwest-ra.gov.uk/media/SWRA/RFA2%202008/RFA2_Transport_response_South_West_from_DFT_July_09.pdf


External links




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