Milestone decision in campaign to fix the A417 missing link
Plans to sort out the A417 'missing link' are moving ahead following a £1million investment from Gloucestershire County Council.
Highways England, which is responsible for the road, has agreed to begin a project to upgrade the traffic pinch point using the council's contribution. Approval has been granted to start looking more closely at the options, including working up detailed plans and costs for the possible schemes.
Gloucestershire County Council set aside the £1m to get the scheme moving - which, following the Highways England decision, will now move forward for formal cabinet approval next month.
Highways England has now confirmed that it will accept the money and that the feasibility study can now get underway. A public consultation will need to take place before work can start, however the council expects to see progress this year.
The missing link is a 5km stretch of single carriageway on the A417 trunk road, with the remaining route between the M4 at Swindon and M5 at Gloucester being dual carriageway.
The route is a key link between the West Midlands and London and is used by more than 34,000 vehicles a day. It also has one of the worst average vehicle delays of all routes in the region.
The local community is severely constrained by how the road is laid out at moment. Heavy congestion and frequent accidents make it Gloucestershire's major traffic hot spot.
It cuts off local businesses and holds up commuter traffic which causes air pollution and worries about road safety. Sadly, there have been more than 370 casualties on the road in the past 17 years, and 13 fatalities.
A solution has long been needed and the county council has consistently campaigned for something to be done to address the problem.
The council believes that the A417 Loop is the best solution with nearly 7,000 people and businesses already pledging their support online. However, the council also understands that Highways England needs to revisit all options.
The study will begin this year and will be carried out by Highways England.
During the study traffic data will be collected, economic assessments will be carried out and the landscape will be checked for any geotechnical issues.
The study will also include a look at the local wildlife and will include surveys about their habitats.
Highways England will be talking to local residents, local businesses and the many commuters who are affected by the traffic jams which currently build up along the existing stretch of single carriageway which runs between Brockworth and Cowley.
Cllr Nigel Moor, cabinet member for fire, planning and infrastructure said, "The county council has been pushing for decades to sort out the A417 missing link, and the project is finally beginning to do exactly that - this is excellent news.
"The missing link causes accidents, pollution and traffic chaos - sorting it out is a key transport and economic priority for Gloucestershire. This is our top priority and we will keep doing everything we can to make this project motor ahead."
Andrew Page-Dove, South West Regional Director at Highways England said, "I am delighted that together with Gloucestershire County Council we have been able to agree a way to progress the development of a potential solution that will improve journeys for those using the A417/A419.
"This work will be critical in progressing the scheme to a position whereby it could start construction early in the next Roads Investment Period."
A report will go to the council's cabinet meeting on the 8th June to request the go ahead for the £1m payment to Highways England to progress stage one of the project.
Further information can also be obtained at www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/a417-missing-link/