A multi-million-pound scheme designed to tackle one of the South West’s most notorious bottlenecks has been unveiled by Highways England.
The new 3.4-mile dual carriageway section of the A417 in Gloucestershire will cut journey times and improve safety on a stretch of road linking the M5 and M4 motorways commonly known as the ‘Missing Link’.
The current single carriageway road is notorious for fatal accidents and heavy traffic, with two particular pinch points at the Air Balloon and Cowley roundabouts. These will be removed as part of the proposals.
Announcing the preferred route, Highways England senior project manager Michael Goddard said: “This scheme will bring a number of benefits to the area. Besides making journey times more reliable, reducing rat-running through neighbouring communities, it will also improve the lives of people who live close to the route and make it easier for drivers, walkers and other local road users to get around.
“Improving this key road connection complements the landscape in this area, and also supports the predicted growth in jobs and housing in Gloucestershire.”
Nearly 2,000 people took part in a public consultation, with around 75 percent of the participants supporting the preferred option. As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), protecting the environment was a key consideration of those involved in the project.
The proposal includes improved access to public footpaths and the building of a new green bridge near Crickley Hill Country Park.
‘Pushing for decades’
Councillor Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council (GCC), said: “We have been pushing for decades to sort out the A417 missing link and today’s news puts the project much closer to the finishing post. GCC has already invested £1.5 million to support the development and we will keep backing Highways England to get it built.”
Highways England will now prepare a more detailed design, with local stakeholders invited to have their say later in the year. A full planning application will follow, although the delivery of the project is subject to confirmation of funding within the second Road Investment Strategy, which will cover the period between 2020 and 2025.