Highways England has announced the preferred route for the improvement planned for the A417 near Gloucester to upgrade the last stretch of single carriageway of the road linking the M5 with the M4 – commonly known as the ‘Missing Link’ – to dual carriageway.
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.
The new dual carriageway will be complemented by an extra climbing lane at Crickley Hill for slow moving traffic. A new section of road built through Shab Hill to the east of the existing A417 will re-join the road near the current location of Cowley roundabout and a new junction will be created at Shab Hill with links to Birdlip and the A436. The Air Balloon Roundabout and Cowley Roundabout are to be removed as part of the scheme.
Highways England said that working in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty this option will see work to restore and improve the landscape and create improved connections including a green bridge.
The proposal will improve access to public footpaths, including the Cotswold Way National Trail and the Gloucestershire Way, helping more people to enjoy the routes safely.
Work now will focus on more detailed design, which Highways England will put to people for their input again later this year before submitting a planning application, known as a Development Consent Order.
Delivery of the project will be subject to confirmation of funding within the second Road Investment Strategy, which will cover the period between 2020 and 2025.
Richard Graham MP for Gloucester said: “The proposed changes to the A417 will make a huge difference to my constituents, and to all coming to Gloucester from the south – making our county a better place to live, work and visit. It’s the biggest and most important investment in Gloucester infrastructure by this government – getting rid of a problem left by the last Labour government. Now it’s important that everyone – charities, environmental groups and residents alike – work together with Highways England to make a success of the detail and timing, so that the road is open to traffic in early 2024.”
More details can be found on the A417 Missing Link scheme web page.