FUNDING for a major £135 million improvement scheme for the A350 at Melksham has been given the go-ahead by the government.

The government has announced its support to fund two major road improvement schemes - the A350 Melksham bypass and the A338 at Salisbury.

Cllr Jon Hubbard, mayor of Melksham, described the announcement as "one significant step forward."

He added: "There are three routes being proposed but as yet even these routes are not definitive.

"We put forward a bid last year and we did not succeed in getting the money but it is good news that the Melksham projects are now going to go forward."

One of the options under consideration could see the A350 upgraded to link with the A3102.

The other option is to skirt the whole town centre to link the northern A350 around Beanacre and Melksham to the A350 on the south side.

It is understood the third option has since been discounted.

Cllr Hubbard added: "It is not going to be built tomorrow and we are not going to get the funding tomorrow."

Wiltshire Council will now develop outline business cases for the two schemes in Melksham and Salisbury to enable them to progress to the next stage of development under the government’s Major Road Network (MRN) and Large Local Majors (LLM) programme.

Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “This is fantastic news for Wiltshire, and we’re delighted that these two schemes have been given the green light to go ahead.

“This funding prioritises the busiest and most economically important roads in the Western Gateway, and will improve connections in the south west, reducing journey times and improving the roads for the people of Wiltshire and visitors to our county.

“We also have £40m worth of other bids in the pipeline that we hope will be included in the next phase of funding announcements, including dualling the A350 at Chippenham to Lackham, and major improvements at Junction 17 of the M4.

“In Westbury, we’re intending to bid for funds to improve the A350, but this scheme will fall into a further round of government funding, which won’t begin until 2025.”

The Melksham scheme, which is estimated to cost around £135m, will bypass the town centre and in turn resolve a critical pinch-point on the A350.

It will help to improve north to south connectivity throughout the Western Gateway from the M4 in the south west to Poole on the south coast.

It is a part of a package of road improvement measures that will improve the northern section of this north-south route.

As well as reducing journey times and delays, the scheme will provide significantly enhanced walking and cycling between Melksham town centre and the railway station and other parts of the town.

The existing single two-lane A350 Chippenham Bypass to dual two-lane standard from the BP petrol station near Cepen Park West to the junction with the A4 is being constructed progressively in a series of short upgrades.

The widened road will link in with the recently improved dual carriageway from Chippenham to Junction 17 on the M4.

Work has already been completed in the middle part of the bypass around Brook Roundabout and work is progressing to the north and south.

The latest phase of the works process has created a new northbound dual carriageway on the Brook to Badger roundabout section and significant improvements around Chequers roundabout.

In time, Wiltshire Council plans to widen and improve the entire bypass from Lackham to the M4 to the same standard.

The council has already submitted a £75m bid for a relief ring road around the eastern side of Chippenham, in a bid to put an end to gridlock in the town.

Cllr Sandie Webb, of Chippenham Town Council, says it could create up to one million square foot of employment land to the east of Chippenham and see an extra 7,500 homes built by 2043.

On the A338 in Salisbury, the estimated £17m of improvements will reduce congestion and improve safety by an extensive remodelling of the Harnham and Exeter Street roundabouts, along with optimising the signals at Park Wall junction on the A36.

Wiltshire Council said: "Both schemes are important to support planned and future growth.

"Outline business cases for these schemes will now be developed to move the projects forward."