A39/Wells - Bridgwater
|Meets:||A371, B3151, A361, B3141, M5, A38, A372, B3339|
|Route outline (key)|
Wells - Street
Heading south out of Wells, the urban area rapidly comes to an end, after passing the hospital and police station. However, this doesn't mean we are heading into open countryside. A scattering of houses lines the road, mostly on the western side, and then we enter the long strung out village of Coxley, crossing the River Sheppey on the way in. This section of the A39 is often busy, with traffic slowed through the village by turning traffic and parked cars. Again, as the village thins out there are still scattered houses along the road side, as we pass through Polsham ad then Southway.
We have now dropped down onto Queens Sedge Moor, part of the Somerset Levels. We cross Hartlake Bridge over one of the larger drainage rhynes, and then reach the Tin Bridge Roundabout at the northern end of the Glastonbury Bypass. The old route into the town continues ahead, while the bypass follows the old Somerset & Dorset Railway line around the town. The bypass opened in the 1990s and has relieved the town centre of through traffic, allowing more room for the thousands of tourists who visit the town every year.
It's nearly a mile to the next roundabout, Northload Bridge Roundabout, where the B3151 heads west to Meare and Wedmore. The two routes then head south through Wirrall Park Roundabout to another roundabout where the A361 joins from the east. The three routes then multiplex around Wearyall Hill, past the former Morland Factory, now a major redevelopment site and out of town across Pomparles Bridge. It is only a few hundred yards, however, before we reach Street Roundabout, where the B3151 heads into town on the former A39 line. The A39 itself swings south west along the town bypass, now lined by the extensive car parks for Clarks Village retail outlets.
Just after some traffic lights the road drops back from a dual carriageway to an S2 with turning lanes. There's a newish roundabout outside the Clarks Distribution building, which also provides access to the Sainsburys store. Just beyond traffic lights control the other end of the Street Bypass where it meets the High Street, the old route through the town centre.
Historical route through Glastonbury
The old route through Glastonbury followed Wells Road around Edmund Hill down to the staggered crossroads at the top of the High Street. This was the original junction with the A361, before it too was diverted around the south of the town centre. The two routes then multiplexed westwards down the High Street, south into Magdalene Street, past the Abbey and then west again along Street Road which is still part of the A361.
Along the Poldens
Leaving Street behind, the route remains built up as we pass through the village of Walton, which stretches out for over a mile. There has been talk of a Walton bypass for years, with the road past Sainsburys in Street designed to be the east end, but as yet nothing has been done. Half a mile or so after Walton, after a twisty route between high hedges, we reach The Pipers This is a historic junction comprising two forks. The first left doubles back up Walton Hill, bypassng Street to the south, while the second left is the A361 as it splits and heads to Taunton.
The A39 continues west into Ashcott, where it starts climbing onto the Polden Ridge. This is a low line of hills stretching almost to the coast, and the road is more or less on the line of a Roman Road built nearly 2000 years ago. Villages are dotted along the sides of the hills, but there are only occasional properties along the ridge itself. However, this hasn't stopped spped limits being applied through junctions and on the twistier sections, which comprise most of the route despite it being a roman route.
The summit of the route is just past the Edington turning, and it then drops steadily down to the B3141 junction at Bawdrip. Another mile and the A39 splits at Crandon Bridge, the primary spur continuing west over Puriton Hlll to the Dunball Interchange with the M5 and on to the Dunball Roundabout with the A38. This spur only became part of the A39 in the early 1970s when the motorway was opened, however it was a historically important route. Until the Turnpike trust built the new Bristol Road (now the A38 out of Bridgwater, all northbound traffic from the town used the Bath Road (A39) to Crandon Bridge. Bristol bound traffic then forked off left to Puriton and Downend, joining the modern A38 just south of Pawlett. This route is now impassable to vehicles thanks to the motorway, where only a footbridge was installed, cars having to divert via the junction.
Meanwhile, the mainline of the A39 swings southwards, returning to non-primary status and crossesthe Kings Sedgemoor Drwain on Crandon Bridge. Beyond the small village of Horsey, we cross the motorway, and enter Bridgwater, quickly finding a new traffic light controlled junction for the new Morrisons distribution centre and residential developments on the old Sellophane Factory site. After crossing the railway line, we quickly reach the Cross Rifles Roundabout with the A38.
This is where the A39 gets really confused. Until recently the A39 and A38 simply multiplexed along the dual carriageway Broadway to the Taunton Road Junction where the A38 turns south, leaving the A39 to continue wetswards. There are 3 sets of traffic lights along the way, first for the A372 at the end of Eastover, then with Salmon Parade before we cross the River Parrett on Blake Bridge. On the far side is the Taunton Road junction, quickly followed by the entrance to Morrisons and B&Q. The A39 continues as a dual carriageway to Penel Orlieu where the original route through the town centre meets.
The other arm of the A39 heads west off the A38 slightly to the north of the Cross Rifles Roundabout. This follows The Drove, a new road built in the 1990s as the first part of the Northern Distributor Road which was completed about a decade later. This road opened as an unclassified route, but was upgraded to be another arm of the A39 in around 2009. It was conceived as a development access road, which has led to large swathes of new housing, but also provides a very useful bypass around the north of the town for Minehead bound traffic. It rejoins the mainline of the A39 in Wembdon, just after traffic lights with the curtailed B3339, the original A39.
Historical route through Bridgwater
Monmouth Street was always part of the A38/ A39 multiplex, but the routes then turned along Eastover to cross Town Bridge over the River Parrett and into Fore Street. They split again at Cornhill, the A39 taking High Street into Penel Orlieu and so back to the modern route.