DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited the notorious A417 missing link today just 48 hours after the Highways Agency agreed that the stretch of road was one that needed urgent improvement.
The Lib Dem leader said he wanted to see for himself the issues that had affected local residents and road users for more than 20 years and promised it was an issue that would be “looked at very seriously”.
His visit came in the week that the Highways Agency included the 5km stretch of single-carriageway between Cowley roundabout and the Air Balloon roundabout on a list of routes in the South West that need improving.
Mr Clegg was joined by Cotswold District Council Lib Dem leader Cllr Paul Hodgkinson and transport minister Baroness Susan Kramer, as well as other local representatives and residents.
The notorious stretch of road between Cowley roundabout and the Air Balloon roundabout has been an issue for locals for over 20 years and is fast becoming a national concern.
“This is a huge issue for people locally and I really wanted the opportunity to see the road for myself,” said Mr Clegg.
“I have heard from local residents the effect it has on them when motorists choose to find a different route and go through the picturesque villages,” he added.
“Even though I cannot wave a magic wand or give an instant answer, I can assure you this will be looked at very seriously.”
A county-wide campaign urging the government to spend £250million on a new dual carriageway between the roundabouts at Cowley and the Air Balloon pub was launched last year.
“The three problems here are gridlock, pollution and accidents,” said Cllr Hodgkinson. “After the latest death on this road which happened on Easter Sunday, I just want something done about it.
“We have had politicians going up to Westminster to lobby about the road before but I decided to bring Westminster here.”
There have been five fatalities on this particular stretch of road since November 2013, with the latest happening on Easter Sunday, where a 67-year-old woman died after a three car crash.
The carriageway is used by motorists all over the country as the single stretch of road is used by drivers coming off the M4 and onto the M5.
Billboards stationed at various points along the carriageway are urging people to show their support of the A417 Loop campaign which more than 4,600 people have put their name to so far.
Transport minister Baroness Kramer said the government had invested significantly into the transport fund.
“Over the next four years £73 billion will go into the transport fund and most of that is for projects that have been neglected, like this one,” she said.
“It is not an easy project and it will take the better part of a year to make a decision.”
Visit a417missinglink.co.uk to pledge your support to the campaign.