BUSINESS leaders in South Gloucestershire have welcomed the start of work on a new junction on the M49 which will have major benefits to the regional economy.

The multi-million pound Highways England road improvement, which will connect the motorway to Avonmouth and the Severnside Enterprise Area, is expected to create as many as 14,000 new jobs and reduce congestion.

Comprising of two bridges, the junction, will also promote economic growth in the area of South Gloucestershire while reducing the number of HGVs going through nearby villages like Easter Compton, Severn Beach and Pilning

At a groundbreaking ceremony last Highways England’s executive director of major projects Peter Mumford and investment programme director David Haimes were joined by Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti, key regional business leaders and representatives for the regions authorities to welcome the £49million scheme.

Nick Aldworth, Highways England’s South West regional delivery director said: “We’re delighted to be breaking ground on this strategically and economically important scheme for the South West and Bristol area.

“Every £1 invested in this scheme will bring more than £30 into the local economy, generating more than 14,000 jobs in the long term.”

Highways England is working with partners, including South Gloucestershire Council, Bristol City Council and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, on the scheme which involves using the existing bridge at Farm Lane with a second bridge being built immediately next to it.

Located to the south of the Western Approach Distribution Park and west of Easter Compton, the two bridges will be incorporated into a single roundabout spanning the motorway with new access and exit slip roads connecting fully with both northbound and southbound traffic.

The scheme has also been welcomed by joint venture partners Robert Hitchins Ltd and Harrow Estates plc, who own the neighbouring 300-acre Westgate employment site.

Simon Tothill, property and development director for Robert Hitchins, said: “We have worked closely with Highways England for the last three years to enable the opening up of this area and are delighted to see progress being made.

“This project is all about the creation of jobs and economic growth. We have absolutely no doubt that it will be a huge boost to the region, deliver significant new investment into the area and unlock the large and incredibly well-located Westgate site, which already benefits from planning permission for employment uses.”

SevernNet, who represent business and residents in the Severnside area, added that they were ‘delighted’ with Highways England’s commitment to the project.

Construction of the new M49 junction is due to be completed by December 2019 and local communities and business will be kept informed on progress by the Highways England project team and construction partners Galliford Try.

Duncan Elliott, Managing Director of Galliford Try's Highways business, said: “We’re delighted to get cracking on a much-needed scheme that will bring far-reaching benefits. We have considerable experience of motorway work from our participation in the Smart motorways programme and will bring this to bear on the Avonmouth junction scheme. We will keep any disruption to a minimum and keep road users updated about progress.”

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