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Cullompton Bypass

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Cullompton Bypass
Location Map ( geo)
Cameraicon.png View gallery (4)
From:  Willand, Devon (ST029099)
To:  Westcott, Devon (ST020050)
Distance:  3.1 miles (5 km)
Former Number(s):  A38
Old route now:  M5


Route outline (key)
M5 Willand-Westcott
Junction List
Junc Northbound Southbound
' A38, B3176 Start of Road
(M5 J28) A373 A373
' Start of road A38, B3176

The Cullompton Bypass was opened in 1969 as part of the A38. It is the only part of the M5 which used a pre-existing road, although the designers clearly knew that the motorway was on its way! In its time as A38, the road was D2M standard, with wide central reservations, ready for the upgrade to M5.

Early plans

The Taunton Courier on 14 December 1957 reported that work on the South-West's first motorway, between Taunton and Exeter, was scheduled to start in 1962. Devon Roads Committee had also been told that the cost would be £1,150,000 which would be paid by Ministry of Transport. Known as the Cullompton Bypass, it was to run from Baulk railway bridge to Willand and was 4 to 5 miles long.

The new motorway would consist of two 24 foot dual carriageways with central reservation and no side access from any minor road. It was intended for fast moving and heavy traffic. Pedestrians and cyclists would not be allowed to use it. All minor roads would be crossed by flyovers and the only major road would be connected by spur roads with an over or under-bridge to serve through traffic.

The new road would be parallel with the railway line and would avoid interference with agricultural land. There would be 4 bridges over classified roads and one over the River Culm.


Work was not started until 1967 and the bypass was to be a dual carriageway with future proofing for a later conversion to a motorway. In May 1969 there was a landslip at Nag's Head Bridge, south of Cullompton, which delayed the bypass opening until after the Summer. Cost was £3.3 million which included an extra £800,000 for dealing with the landslip.

Route detail

Part of the southern "roundabout". The M5 is in the background

The two terminal junctions, with the old A38, which was temporarily re-numbered B3176 (now part of the B3181), were flat roundabouts and have long since been removed, whilst the junction in the middle, now M5 J28, was built as a diamond and is now a diamond/dumbbell hybrid.

Despite the two termini having been removed, the southern roundabout still partially exists as a link to the B3181 for emergency traffic.

Motorway conversion

The bypass was converted to M5 motorway in two sections, either side of junction 28 with A373. The southern section, part of the J28 to J30 Sandygate, Exeter contract, was opened on 16 October 1975. The northern section, part of the J27 Tiverton Parkway Interchange to J28 contract, was opened on 8 July 1976. Tiverton Parkway Interchange was then known as Waterloo Cross interchange or Sampford Peverell.

Local road re-numbering

When the motorway opened it meant that the A38 was banished from most of East Devon, as it was downgraded to the B3181, and so the road through Cullompton changed number again. Since then, the A373 has also been foreshortened, so J28 of the M5 - the middle of the old bypass section - is now the end of the A373, with a spur of the B3181 coming the short distance from the town centre to join it.

Cullompton Bypass
Related Pictures
View gallery (4)
Cullompton Bypass 001.jpgCullompton Bypass 002.jpgA38 - Coppermine - 11548.jpgCullompton bypass - Coppermine - 17719.jpg

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