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Your questions answered

If you have have a question that we haven't answered below, please feel free to send us an email at hello@a38mrn-engagement.com and we'll do our best to respond.

Who is involved in the project?

The proposed improvements for the A38 have been developed collaboratively between the following partners:

  • North Somerset Council
  • Somerset County Council
  • Department for Transport (DfT)
  • Highways England
  • WSP
Through this joint scheme venture design consultant WSP have been commissioned to prepare the Outline Business Case (OBC) for the scheme which is to be submitted to the Department for Transport this Autumn to obtain further funding. The OBC will set out the benefits, risks and costs associated with the proposed improvements and demonstrate how this will benefit the community, businesses and stakeholders along this A38 corridor and in providing value for money.


What is the Major Road Network?

The Government's Transport Investment Strategy sets out how it is responding to today’s transport challenges through transport investment, delivering the Industrial Strategy, while putting the travelling public at the heart of transport decision-making.

As part of the Strategy, the Government committed to creating a Major Road Network (MRN) across England. In creating this network, the Government has five central policy objectives. These are:

  • Reduce congestion – alleviating local and regional congestion, reducing traffic jams and bottlenecks.
  • Support economic growth and re balancing – supporting the delivery of the Industrial Strategy, contributing to a positive economic impact that is felt across the regions.
  • Support housing delivery – unlocking land for new housing developments.
  • Support all road users – recognising the needs of all users, including cyclists, pedestrians and disabled people.
  • Support the Strategic Road Network (SRN) – complementing and supporting the existing SRN by creating a more resilient road network in England.

Who will fund the project?

The project will ultimately be funded by the Department for Transport, in collaboration with North Somerset Council and Somerset County Council. The Department for Transport works with agencies and partners to support the transport network, investing in transport infrastructure to keep the UK on the move. They are responsible for:

  • Providing policy, guidance, and funding to English local authorities to help them run and maintain their road networks, improve passenger and freight travel, and develop new major transport schemes
  • Investing in, maintaining and operating around 4,300 miles of the motorway and trunk road network in England
  • Improving English bus services through funding and regulation
  • Working to make our roads less congested and polluted by promoting lower carbon transport, including cycling and walking encouraging the use of new technology such as smart ticketing and low carbon vehicles
  • Maintaining high standards of safety and security in transport
  • Supporting the maritime sector by producing the overall strategy and planning policy for ports in England and Wales
  • Setting national aviation policy, working with airlines, airports, the Civil Aviation Authority and NATS (the UK’s air traffic service)

What is an Outline Business Case and why is it important?

The Outline Business Case is part of the process required to secure funding from central Government for the proposed improvements. We are now asking for community and stakeholder input on our plans, to ensure that the case for funding is supported by a robust evidence base and reflects aspirations of people across the region.

What has happened so far?

North Somerset Council and Somerset County Council submitted a Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) for the A38 route improvements to central Government in July 2019. This document set out the broad case for change along the route and highlighted potential locations for improvement.

In response to feedback from the Department for Transport, the potential options for improvement have been reassessed to ensure they meet the aims and objectives of the project, particularly in terms of responding to the climate emergency and delivering improvements to congestion, active travel infrastructure and road safety. On this basis, some options that were previously included have been discounted and some new options have emerged.

What is the next step?

The Councils will be submitting an Outline Business Case to central government later this year. This will describe how the proposed scheme has been developed and refined since the submission of the Strategic Outline Business Case in 2019. It will provide the government with updates on other topics relevant to the scheme which have emerged or changed since 2019.

What potential improvements are now proposed?

Additional analysis has been carried out since the Strategic Outline Business Case submission in 2019. This was to ensure that the proposed scheme focuses on the locations where improvements are required to improve cycling and walking connections, road safety and reduce congestion issues. The Outline Business Case is now proposing improvements at the following locations (click on each to find out more):

All of the proposed interventions along the route are work in progress and are subject to change following the outcomes of the public engagement process and further technical studies. Comments made by the public and local stakeholders during the public engagement proces will be carefully considered by the project team and amendments to the plans will be made where appropriate and feasible.

The project is also proposing to upgrade some bus stops at selected locations along the corridor. The improvements are likely to include raised kerbs for level boarding, bus stop flags and timetables and shelters. Improvements will be delivered at priority locations, such as to serve the main villages along the route. We are also investigating the potential to provide new bus stops on the A38 to serve East Brent, Cross and Bristol Airport Silver Zone.

Why are improvements still proposed around Bristol Airport when their planning application for expansion was refused by North Somerset Council?

The road improvements proposed on the A38 in the immediate vicinity of the airport form part of the A38 Major Road Network scheme to improve active travel connectivity; and address road safety, traffic congestion and journey reliability time issues that exist (pre-COVID-19) in the area. These road improvements are not connected to Bristol Airport’s application to expand its operation which was refused back in March 2020. North Somerset Council’s position remains that the application made by Bristol Airport Limited (BAL) to expand its existing operations and capacity is refused and therefore the Council will be defending its decision at the forthcoming appeal due to be heard this Summer. The A38 Major Road Network improvements referred above are irrespective of the appeal outcome.

However, the strategic case for junction improvements at Downside Road remains irrespective of the Bristol Airport appeal outcome or any development at the Airport. Past traffic flows have shown that there is insufficient capacity at the Downside Road junction to accommodate road users prior to Covid-19, at which time Bristol Airport was operating under their current maximum passenger capacity. 

What are the timescales?

We intend to submit the Outline Business Case to central Government later in the year. If the Outline Business Case is successful, we will look to secure all necessary consents to start the work by Spring 2022. Once this is complete, we will submit the Full Business Case in Summer 2022 to secure sign-off on the funding, which is likely to take 3 months, before commencing construction in Autumn 2022. If all goes to plan, the route improvements will be fully open and operational by Autumn 2023.

How can people get involved?

We are committed to involving local businesses, residents and anyone with an interest in the future of the A38 corridor, before finalising and submitting the Outline Business Case to central Government. You can let us have your views by commenting directly the plans on this map or by following the links above. You can also sign up for updates here.

How will COVID-19 impact the plans?

We are in uncertain times, which will doubtless affect how we live, work and travel in the future. We will, of course, explore how any plans need to respond to these changes, alongside the climate and ecological crises.

Who can I contact?

People with any questions can get in touch by completing our contact form here or email hello@a38mrn-engagement.com.