We are now working with local businesses, political, council and environmental representatives to develop route options for a solution that will transform journey reliability, increase safety and unlock the economic potential for businesses and people in the area while respecting, conserving and enhancing the special character of the Cotswolds.
We are considering all possible options for routes for the road, including all the proposals which have been put forward in the past, and assessing them against our vision and 4 key objectives.
This work includes examining the area and testing a range of options. The complex nature of the site means that there are many different things to consider such landscape, ecology and cultural heritage.
Using a detailed process of analysis and comparison, we will narrow down the number of routes and then we will present these to the public as part of an options consultation. The feedback we receive will help us decide on a preferred route to take forward for more detailed design work. There will be a second round of public consultation on the detailed route before we submit an application for the project to the Planning Inspectorate.
|December 2014||Scheme announced|
|TBC||Have your say|
|TBC||Start of works|
|TBC||End of works|
Why we need this scheme
Together, the A417 and A419 through the Cotswolds make up one of the south west’s most important road corridors, helping people get to work, school, visit friends, have fun and get to places in an emergency.
They link the M5 at Gloucester (junction 11A) to the M4 at Swindon (junction 15) – 2 of the region’s top growth areas – and help south west businesses connect with markets and opportunities in the midlands and north, and attract investment for Gloucestershire and its neighbours by linking them to London and the south east.
But there’s a problem. Most of the route is dual carriageway, but there’s one section that isn’t. Known as the ‘Missing Link’, this stretch of around 3 miles of single carriageway on the A417 between the Brockworth bypass and Cowley roundabout restricts the flow of traffic, causes a disproportionately high number of accidents, pollution and congestion. Delays of 20 minutes or more are not unusual, and nor is the sight of queuing traffic or the sound and smell of idling engines in nearby communities as motorists divert onto side roads to avoid the tailbacks.
Upgrading this section of A417 to dual carriageway, in a way that is sensitive to the surrounding Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will help unlock Gloucestershire’s potential for growth, support regional plans for more homes and jobs and improve life in local communities.
As the number of people living and working in the area increases, this section of road, unless it is improved, will continue to cause congestion and delays, acting as an ever greater barrier to growth and prosperity for the region.
The scheme in detail
The A417 ‘Missing Link’ is inside the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, an area which includes some of the most beautiful countryside in England and is widely considered one of the nation’s important landscapes.
The single carriageway starts 2.7 miles south of the M5 where the Brockworth bypass ends. After about 2.4 miles it reaches Air Balloon roundabout where it is joined by traffic from the A436 and switches sharply south. The road becomes dual carriageway again after Cowley roundabout and continues all the way to the M4.
As well as 2 single carriageway-graded roundabouts, drivers have to negotiate speed restrictions, steep inclines and a number of local road entrances not normally associated with free-flowing dual carriageways. The popular Cotswold Way national trail and the Gloucestershire Way hiking paths also cross the A417 at Air Balloon roundabout.
Housing and jobs are expected to grow in Gloucestershire and its neighbouring areas, meaning that the number of vehicles in use will go up too. In 2015, an average of around 29,000 vehicles used the single carriageway of the A417 between Birdlip and Air Balloon roundabout, a volume of traffic that already exceeds recommended standards for roads of this type. By 2024, forecasts indicate that traffic volumes on the approaches to Air Balloon roundabout will have increased by around nine percent, further exacerbating the delays experienced by drivers at this junction.
Without an upgrade, the A417 ‘Missing Link’ will not be able to accommodate the extra traffic likely to be generated by the new housing and jobs being created in the area over the coming years.
In 2014, the Department for Transport announced 5 year investment programme for making improvements to the strategic road network across England. More than 100 schemes were identified as part of this Road Investment Strategy, one of which is the A417 ‘Missing Link’ between the Brockworth bypass and Cowley roundabout in Gloucestershire.
The aims of this scheme are to:
- transform transport capacity and connectivity and reduce incidents and injuries
- minimise the impact of any solution on the landscape, natural and historic environment of the Cotswolds and, where possible, maximise opportunities to enhance the surrounding environment
- reduce traffic intrusion and pollution and substantially improve access and enjoyment to the countryside for both residents and visitors
- help boost growth and prosperity by improving the reliability of journeys
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