Published: May 10, 2012
47-mile detour may be 'UK's longest-ever roadworks diversion route'

Motorists who want to travel through Highbridge next week will be asked to take a 47-mile diversion across Somerset in what has been described as "the UK's longest diversion route".

The diversion will be put in place while a short stretch of Church Street is closed on eight evenings from May 14th for resurfacing work.

But Somerset County Council's official diversion route is baffling local residents since it directs motorists on a huge journey taking almost two hours.

Motorists approaching Highbridge from the south will see signs encouraging them to turn around and go back along the A38 to Pawlett, then drive inland along the A39 to Glastonbury and Wells, before travelling north to Axbridge along the A371 then to Rodney Stoke, before picking up the A38 at East Brent and travelling southbound to Highbridge.

Town councillor Phil Harvey, pictured above holding a map of the diversion route, told this week: "This has to qualify as the UK's longest-ever diversion route caused by such a minor set of roadworks."

"It is just laughable that Somerset County Council really expects motorists to drive almost 50 miles across the region to avoid a few hundred metres of road here! There are plenty of shorter, more sensible, local routes to take."

Google's online mapping facility states the alternative route is 47.1 miles in length and will take drivers around 1 hour, 43 minutes to complete - considerably longer than the 30 seconds it usually takes to drive along the 680 metres of Church Street that will be temporarily closed.

Burnham and Highbridge Town Clerk Eileen Shaw said: "The alternative route might look extreme, but it is being put in place by the County Council to try and divert motorists, particularly those with heavy goods vehicles, away from minor roads with weak bridges."

A Somerset County Council spokesman told "It does seem ridiculous that legally the council has to put this lengthy diversion in place. In reality we all know that locals will find alternative short routes and lorry drivers will use sat nav and use the motorway. We apologise for any inconvenience this has caused but it is only for a short period and only affects the few."

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