A key pedestrian crossing on one of Somerset’s busiest roads could soon be upgraded using nearly half a million pounds of central government funding.

Somerset County Council and North Somerset Council published initial proposals in June 2021 for nine improvement schemes to improve traffic flow along the A38 between Bristol Airport and the Edithmead roundabout, near junction 22 of the M5.

One of the schemes identified would see the replacement of the existing crossing over the A38 Bridgwater Road near Axbridge, which forms part of the Strawberry Line active travel route between Yatton railway station and Station Road in Cheddar.

Somerset Council (which replaced the county council in April 2023) has now confirmed it will be requesting £470,000 from the Department for Transport (DfT) to upgrade this crossing as part of a wider bid with North Somerset Council.

The existing crossing straddles the A38 south of the Winscombe tunnel section of the Strawberry Line, within the Mendip Hills national landscape (formerly area of outstanding natural beauty, or AONB).

The crossing is not currently signal-controlled, with pedestrians and cyclists having to contend with narrow limited pavements near bus stops on either side and the busy main road.

Under the current proposals, this twisty crossing will be replaced with a straighter, signal-controlled toucan crossing, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to cross together more easily without dodging cars and HGVs.

A spokesman for Somerset Council said: “We are submitting a joint funding bid with North Somerset Council to the DfT for improvements along the A38 Major Road Network (MRN).

“The funding bid includes £470,000 for an improved crossing for the Strawberry Line.

“The proposals include upgrading the existing crossing to a Toucan crossing.

“If funding is granted, work is likely to be undertaken late in 2025 or 2026 as part of the wider A38 MRN programme.”

The council said that there would be no repairs or upgrades carried out to either part of the Strawberry Line nearest the crossing as part of this improvement scheme.

For more information on the route, including how to get involved as a volunteer, visit www.thestrawberryline.org.uk.

A decision on the MRN bid – which also includes £6.4m to upgrade the Edithmead roundabout – is expected to be made by the DfT later in the year.

While many council-delivered cycle routes – such as the route along the A39 between Minehead and Dunster – are constructed out of Tarmac, the different sections of the Strawberry Line have been delivered primarily by less-invasive and cheaper methods pioneered by Greenways and Cycle Routes.

The company is currently working with the Strawberry Line Society and local contractors to deliver numerous new extensions to the route, including an extension near Dulcote recycling centre (which is due to open by Easter) and the ‘missing link’ between two existing stretches in Shepton Mallet.

Once completed, the route – which follows much of the trackbed of the former Cheddar Valley railway line – will run interrupted between Shepton Mallet and Clevedon.

The Strawberry Line is part of the Somerset Circle which, when completed, will form a 76-mile traffic-free circuit linking Bristol, Bath, the Mendip Hills and the Somerset Levels.