BUSINESS leaders across Gloucestershire are backing the county council’s campaign to secure funding to fix the A417 missing link.
The council wants to ensure the A417 Loop is added to the Government’s list of future road schemes and, since the campaign was launched in January, more than 3,000 pledges of support have been received from residents and businesses backing the £250 million scheme.
Food wholesaler Creed Foodservice, which has a £60 million turnover and delivers to customers throughout the UK, says the missing link is a vital issue.
Managing Director Philip de Ternant said: “This route is a daily problem for local and national distribution companies, as well as commuter traffic. It’s dogged by frequent articulated lorry breakdowns and is now, unfortunately, an infamous hot spot.”
Almost half of Creed’s fleet deliver to hospitals, schools and care homes in the Home Counties, London and the south east from the company’s base at Staverton Technology Park near Churchdown.
This means daily journeys via the missing link – a 5km stretch of single carriageway leading into a dual carriageway between the M5 at Gloucester and the M4 at Swindon. The route is used by more than 34,000 vehicles a day and has the worst average vehicle delay of all strategic routes in the south west. The route has also seen more than 340 casualties in the past 15 years.
Mr de Ternant said: “Taking into account the cost of fuel, increased vehicle servicing due to excess idling time, plus our drivers’ overtime, we have calculated the cost of this stretch alone to be in excess of £15,000 per annum. “When you multiply this by the hundreds of other companies using the A417, it is obviously having a detrimental effect on the whole county’s economy.”
Mr de Ternant added: “There is a huge environmental impact; hundreds of lorries and cars queuing and idling, sometimes for hours, polluting the area with CO2 and exhaust emissions. “The Highways Agency and the council are fully aware of the issues surrounding this well-known road. On behalf of Creed, I support recommendations for change.”
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.
“The A417 is a key route, but one which brings a substantial cost to the local economy. With the support of businesses and local people we can ensure the Government hears our case and makes the A417 Loop a priority.”
The Highways Agency will set out its future road scheme priorities at the end of March this year, 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.
Local business owners and commuters are urged to show their support for the A417 Loop by signing up and pledging their backing at www.a417missinglink.co.uk or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us at @A417Loop on Twitter and visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/A417Loop.