|Location Map ( geo)|
|19th Century, 1960s|
The dualled A38 crosses the Kings Sedgemoor Drain a little south of the Dunball Roundabout on two bridges, one for each carriageway. To explain, we need to go back to the Turnpike era when this route was first built. Prior to that, traffic heading north out of Bridgwater used what is now the A39, Bath Road, turning west at Crandon Bridge through Puriton to Pawlett. Whilst an old route did come directly north out of the town, it was very boggy and frequently flooded making it impassable by wheeled traffic, and hard going for horses. Then when the Kings Sedgemoor Drain was cut in the 1790s it appears that the route was severed with no bridge built at Dunball.
Roll forward a few years and the Turnpike company decided that enough was enough and built a new, firm road north out of Bridgwater, crossing the Drain at Dunball and meeting the old route at Walpole a little further north. This is the road that became the A38 in 1922. However, it seems that neither of the standing bridges date from this time either.
The older of the two bridges carries southbound traffic. It is a single span concrete deck, carrying brick parapets topped with metal railings. The overall appearance suggests that it was built in the 1950s, presumably replacing an older, narrower, structure which had been built by the Turnpike Company. Immediately upstream is a metal footbridge.
The road across the bridge was originally two way, before becoming the two-lane southbound carriageway of the now dualled A38. However, in the early 2000s the roadway was hatched down to one lane to provide safer access and parking to the properties alongside the road just to the south. This extends as far as the link road which allows traffic to turn back onto the northbound side.
Developments came thick and fast to this road. Within just a few years of the old bridge being replaced, the A38 was dualled in the later 1960s. This involved the construction of another bridge across the drain, a little downstream. The new bridge is a three span concrete structure of a much slimmer appearance than its neighbour. Two rows of nine concrete legs drop into the channel to support the deck, with the central span being the widest. The deck is somewhat wider too, and still carries two lanes of traffic on the approach to the roundabout. Of course, in 1973 even this bridge was replaced by the new M5 bridge a little upstream, and so it's importance was somewhat short lived, albeit that this stretch of the A38 now provides the main link between Bridgwater and the motorway network.