David Laws has campaigned tirelessly for the dualling of the A303, and has unsurprisingly welcomed the announcement of a £2bn Coalition Government plan to dual the A303 and A358.
“I am absolutely delighted that the Coalition Government is going ahead with this significant plan to upgrade the A303 and the A358 – neither of which are currently fit for purpose. Current levels of road congestion and delays are unacceptable, and it is totally inappropriate that a busy A303 runs right past Stonehenge – a monument of world heritage importance.
I have been campaigning for this plan for many years, and it has taken a Coalition Government with a strong Liberal Democrat membership to finally secure some action.
The plan is exactly what I have wanted – with the A303 dualled from Ilminster eastwards, and the A358 dualled up to the M5 at Taunton.
This is good news for travel across the region and within Somerset – making it easier for my constituents to access Taunton, the M5 and the M3.
We now need to ensure that this plan moves ahead without delay, and we have to ensure that political support for it lasts well beyond the General Election next year. I promise to continue supporting this plan, and I will hold this Government and its successor Governments to account for delivering it.”
The plan does not involve dualling the A303 over the sensitive Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding National Beauty, but instead there will be smaller scale improvements to this stretch of road. The plan is expected to take over a decade to complete. An early priority includes the Sparkford to Ilchester section of the road, which will cost around £120m to dual.
David Laws is also campaigning for better rail links to the region, stating that:
‘I will also press for double tracking of the railway line from Salisbury to Exeter. We need not only first class roads in our region but also high quality rail services. At present, the rail services from Weymouth to Bristol are too infrequent and can be very over-crowded, not least in summer. Now that we have got a good plan for the A303 and A358, we need to strongly press the case for significantly better rail services, both East/West and North/South.’