July 2014

A special visit for the A417 Loop

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has visited the ‘Missing Link’ today (Wednesday 16th July) to discuss proposals for the A417 Loop to improve the 5km stretch of road.

The missing link is a 5km stretch of single carriageway on the A417 with the remaining route between the M4 at Swindon and M5 at Gloucester being dual carriageway. With more than 34,000 vehicles a day, it is a significant bottleneck and has the worst average vehicle delay of all main routes in the south west. The road has also seen more than 340 casualties in the past 15 years.

At today’s visit the transport secretary was joined on Crickley Hill by Laurence Robertson MP, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, Gloucestershire County Council’s Chief Executive Peter Bungard and Cllr Will Windsor-Clive Cabinet member for planning and infrastructure for a tour of the area and to discuss the proposed A417 Loop solution.

Gloucestershire County Council launched a campaign in January to encourage residents and businesses to back the A417 Loop – the only workable solution to the problem.

As well as an answer to the hundreds of lost business hours and the knock-on effect on the Gloucestershire economy, the loop would seek to improve the road’s safety record with a number of highways improvements, from a new bypass of Nettleton Bottom to an additional dual carriageway down Crickley Hill.

In April the ‘missing link’ was added to a Highways Agency list of roads in the south west that need major improvements because of capacity, safety and environmental issues. This brought the scheme one step closer to finding funding when the Government allocates cash in spring 2015.

Gloucestershire County Council leader Mark Hawthorne took the county’s petition to Number 10 in May, calling for £255 million in Government cash to build the A417 Loop.

Almost 5700 people and business have already signed up to show their support for the A417 Loop, and with year central government making their funding decision next year the council is calling for even more to show their support now while there is still time.

Cllr Will Windsor-Clive, cabinet member for planning and infrastructure, said, “Getting this dangerous and congested stretch of road upgraded is Gloucestershire County Council’s number one transport priority.  I’m delighted to welcome Patrick McLoughlin to Gloucestershire so he can see for himself just why the Government needs to fund the A417 Loop to fix this problem.”

 

April 2014

A417 Loop makes Highways Agency short list

The fix for The Missing Link is one step closer to funding with support from the Highways Agency.

Support to solve The Missing Link has grown after the scheme was added to a list of roads in the south west that are challenged because of capacity, safety and environmental issues.

The Highways Agency has recognised local concerns about the route following stakeholder events in the region, and highlighted the issue in its route strategy report.

The report follows a campaign by Gloucestershire County Council to support the A417 Loop – a £255 million scheme to improve the road.

It means the 5km stretch of the A417 – known locally as the Missing Link – is one step closer to finding funding when the Government allocates cash in spring 2015.

The road is used by more than 34,000 vehicles a day and has one of the worst average vehicle delays of all routes in the region. There have been more than 340 casualties on the road in the past 15 years.

More than 4,600 local people and businesses have now pledged their support to the Loop, which would replace the Highways Agency-maintained single-lane route from Cowley to Brockworth with a dual carriageway, among other improvements.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “I’m delighted that the Highways Agency has recognised just how important it is that a solution is found to the problem of the Missing Link.

“We know from the overwhelming support local people and businesses have given to the Loop that this is a major issue, not just in the county but in the entire region.

“However, there is still a long way to go to get Government support for the scheme and I would urge anyone who has ever used the road to make their voice heard by pledging online.”

The Highways Agency says the report at http://www.highways.gov.uk/publications/route-strategies-evidence-reports has identified a number of key challenges and opportunities with the road, concerning capacity, safety and the environment.

It also says that recent fatal collisions on the stretch of A417 weren’t included in the report because validated data was not available at the time, however there could be value in reassessing more recent incident data to understand the situation.

The county council has already offered to help fund the Loop to the tune of £500,000, demonstrating its commitment to finding a long-term solution.

Cllr Lesley Williams, Leader of the Labour Group at the county council, said: “It is positive news that the Highways Agency has recognised that the missing link is a key challenge. The A417 Loop campaign has received widespread support from local people and businesses, all of whom want safety on the A417 to improve. I hope the Government will now listen carefully to Gloucestershire residents and the Highways Agency and provide the funding for the scheme.”

Cllr Colin Hay, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at the county council said, “It’s great news that the Highways Agency is recognising this piece of work as important. They’ve clearly heard the voices of local people, not just for road safety, but for helping businesses as well. However, we’re not there yet and it’s important that everyone gets behind our bid by pledging support.”

Cllr Alan Preest, Leader of UKIP Group at the county council said, “We see this as an improvement for our roads in Gloucestershire and we’re one hundred per cent behind the scheme.”

 

9th May 2014

County council takes A417 campaign to Downing Street

Only a united front will keep the pressure on to fix the Missing Link – that was the message being made at Downing Street yesterday.

Gloucestershire County Council leader Mark Hawthorne took the county’s 4,800-name petition to Number 10, calling for £255 million in Government cash to build the A417 Loop.

The petition included the names of Gloucestershire residents and businesses who have already signed up to the county council campaign to finally fix the controversial road.

Cllr Hawthorne, who was joined by MPs Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Laurence Robertson and Richard Graham, and GFirst chair Dr Diane Savory, said the fight was far from over.

He added: “We have the support of all the district councils in Gloucestershire, MPs, parishes and business leaders, and nearly 5,000 residents.

“This alone shows the Government that we know the A417 Loop is the right solution to this controversial road.

“But the campaign is by no means over. We want the whole of the county to get behind this scheme – the more people who sign up, the more the powers-that-be will have to sit up and listen.”

The Downing Street visit follows news that the Missing Link has been added to a Highways Agency list of roads in the south west that need major improvements because of capacity, safety and environmental issues.

The road’s appearance on the route strategy report means it is one step closer to finding funding when the Government allocates cash in spring 2015.

March 2014

Been stuck on the Missing Link? It’s time to make that pledge

The message is simple – if you’ve ever been made to queue on the Missing Link, now’s the time to make a change.

That is why Gloucestershire County Council is urging residents and businesses to pledge their support to the A417 Loop – a £255 million scheme to improve the road, leading to less congestion and fewer accidents.

To ensure the message reaches those people who are most affected, signs have been placed on land next to the road from Cirencester to Birdlip, at the point at which the rush-hour queues often start.

They’re near the beginning of the 5km stretch of single carriageway known locally as the Missing Link, a Highways Agency-maintained route used by more than 34,000 vehicles a day, which has the worst average vehicle delays of all strategic routes in the south west. The road has also seen more than 340 casualties in the past 15 years.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “We launched the Loop campaign in January and more than 3,750 people have already signed up.

“But, if the Government is going to listen, we need as many people as possible to show their support. The road isn’t currently designed to carry the amount of traffic it does every day – this isn’t just a question of delays, it’s a safety issue too.”

The Highways Agency will set out its future road scheme priorities at the end of this month, as part of its ongoing Route Based Strategy work. If the A417 Loop is included there’s a much higher chance of securing the funding needed when the Government is allocating cash in spring 2015.

15th January 2014

Get behind ‘missing link’ solution

People across Gloucestershire are being urged to support a campaign to secure funding to sort out the A417 ‘missing link’.

The government will set out its future road schemes at the end of March and Gloucestershire County Council is spearheading a campaign to see the missing link solution – the A417 loop – added to the list.

Over the next two months, the council needs people to get behind the campaign and support the A417 loop in order to convince the government to stump up the £250million needed.

Once this window of opportunity closes, it’s unlikely that the government will have money available for major schemes like this one for many years to come.

Now people across Gloucestershire are being asked to show their support for the A417 loop by signing up and pledging their backing on www.a417missinglink.co.uk.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “This is our one chance to show the government how important this scheme is to our county.

“For more than 20 years people have talked about a possible solution but it’s only ever been talk up to this point, without the money to see it through.

“We know the government will announce its list of schemes at the end of March and this is our opportunity to put our case forward and get the cash we need.”

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 atGloucester being dual carriageway.

It is a significant bottleneck and has the worst average vehicle delay of all strategic routes in the South West.

The Air Balloon roundabout, which is a key part of the missing link section, is forecasted to be running 30% over capacity by 2026.

The route already sees more than 34,000 vehicles a day and in the past 15 years there has been more than 340 casualties following accidents on that stretch of road.

The impact on the local economy is also significant with many local businesses affected by unreliable deliveries and lack of confidence in the road network preventing investment.

The Highways Agency, which owns the road, has investigated possible solutions and significant work has been done on this over the past 20 years.

Following this work, the A417 loop, formerly known as the Brown Route, has been highlighted as the best solution.

The A417 loop is a new road made up of a short bypass of Nettleton Bottom, widening of Birdlip Bypass, a new junction at Birdlip, a new junction replacing the Air Balloon roundabout and construction of an additional two lane carriageway down Crickley Hill.

The result will be an uninterrupted dual carriageway all the way from the M5 at Gloucester to the M4 at Swindon.

The A417 loop follows the existing path as much as possible and has been judged as the most environmentally friendly by the Environment Agency.

Other solutions, including a tunnel which would cost £1billion, have been ruled out on cost and environmental grounds.

Cllr Hawthorne added: “Now is the time for us to make our case heard.

“We firmly believe the A417 loop is the way forward and we have to make sure the government hears that message loud and clear.

“The window of opportunity for securing the cash for the A417 loop is short and we need to show the government that Gloucestershire really is behind this scheme.