WORK on a £19.2 million scheme to ease traffic flows in and out of Taunton is set to start next month.

Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd has been appointed to carry out the work to upgrade the busy M5 Junction 25 roundabout so as to increase its capacity.

Somerset County Council is working with the company to finalise the detailed plans for the project, which is likely to take two years.

The upgrade involves full signalisation and enlarging of the roundabout, widening of the eastern exit, a new roundabout to access the proposed Nexus 25 employment site, and safer pedestrian and cycling facilities.

Junction 25 currently experiences congestion in both peak hours, with queues frequently extending along the A358 in both directions and it will help address issues with backing up onto the M5.

The scheme aims to improve journey times, reduce congestion, improve park and ride journey time reliability and create a more attractive gateway to Taunton, Yeovil and the A303 from the M5.

Cllr John Woodman, County Hall cabinet member for highways, said: "Works are planned to begin next month and we’ll be announcing details of the start date and public drop-in events very shortly so we can meet people and go through the plans in more detail.

"This scheme is hugely significant and will provide much needed improvements to one our busiest junctions."

Griffiths’ executive director Martyn Evans said: "We look forward to starting work on Junction 25 and recognise the importance of this scheme for the local community and route users.

"Griffiths will work considerately with the community and do our best to minimise disruption to road users during the various construction phases of the programme."

The scheme is being funded with cash from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal Fund, Taunton Deane Borough Council, Highways England, the county and developer contributions.

Chairman of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership Steve Hindley said: "The Junction 25 improvement is one of the LEP’s largest Growth Deal projects.

"We’re committed to working with government to attract investment in projects that generate growth and help businesses raise productivity in Somerset, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.

"This major infrastructure improvement will do just that by increasing the connectivity of our area to UK and international markets."

Taunton Deane Borough Council Cllr John Williams said: "The enhancement of Junction 25 represents a major step forward to improve our all-important road system.

"It opens up a significant opportunity to bring new business and investment to Taunton.

"It is not only vital to cope with growth across the town but is pivotal to our plans for the Nexus 25 employment site which will support innovation, collaboration and the productivity that our economy needs.

"I now look forward to the announcement of the preferred route of the A358 in the spring which is another essential element of our plans to deliver improved infrastructure to match the growth in housing, jobs and leisure in our county town."

The J25 scheme will run alongside future planned improvements at the Creech Castle junction on Toneway, in Taunton, which is expected to start in 2020.

Highways England is developing a dual carriageway in the A358 between Taunton and Ilminster, with the preferred option out of three due to be announced this year.