Barnstaple Western Bypass

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The Barnstaple Western Bypass is a congestion-relief scheme designed to take road traffic away from the town centre of Barnstaple, a market town in Devon, South West England. Construction of the new road started in the Spring of 2005 and it was opened on 23 May 2007.

Barnstaple Western Bypass during construction
Completed bridge over the River Taw


The scheme consists of a single two lane carriageway, one roundabout and three traffic-signalled controlled junctions. 1.7 miles (2.7 km) of new road was constructed and a 409 metres (447 yards) long, five-span, downstream bridge was built across the River Taw. A new roundabout has been created between the Newport and Roundswell roundabouts with a feeder lane from the Roundswell side to the new two lane carriageway. This allows easy access from the A39 Atlantic Highway to the A361 Braunton Road which generates much of Barnstaple's traffic.

The bridge is a balanced cantilever design with reinforced concrete box girders supporting the arms.

Other constructions include stream culverts, two pedestrian/cycleway underpasses, minor retaining walls, and a 100-metre three span viaduct providing access for buses, cyclists and pedestrians to Barnstaple railway station. Also built into the plans was the ability to reopen the Barnstaple-Bideford railway in the future should this become financially viable.

As with any project of this scale, many companies were employed in the development. Edmund Nuttall Ltd., a major civil engineering group, was the main contractor. It was estimated to cost £42 million. £38 million of this amount came from the central government. Devon County Council also contributed.

An economic impact study was made and it was estimated that after 5 years the project would generate an extra £248 million in business turnover and would create 1,280 jobs.

Opening ceremony[edit]

Up to 20,000 people were expected to attend the Taw Bridge Family Fun Day.

The event was organised to raise money for charity and to commemorate the completion of the Western Bypass and Downstream Bridge.

The ceremony took place on the Pottington side of the bridge at 11:00 and members of the public would have get their chance to walk over the new bridge from 11:30. A Fun Run started from Park School at 12:00.

At 14:30 A tug-of-war competition on the bridge itself took place.

A final grand parade was to start at 16:00 and at 17:30 an evening concert in St Peter's Church was to end the day. [1]


Critics would say that the Western Bypass would endanger wildlife and the environment. Friends of the Earth campaigner and Green Party candidate Anthony Bown claimed it would disturb large numbers of seabirds on the Taw and Torridge Estuary, along with the habitat of endangered otters.

They are also worried that the bypass will attract more vehicles and therefore further contribute to pollution, although it has also been argued that the bypass will reduce pollution by substantially reducing traffic jams and journey times in and around Barnstaple.

Some locals are also upset that the decoration chosen for one of the new roundabouts comprises Cornish stone, as the road is really a gateway to North Devon.

Taw Bridge from Barnstaple

The old railway line from Barnstaple to Bideford was also partially built over, meaning it will be more expensive to re-open the line in the future.


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