A scheme to improve safety and reduce delays on the A417 'missing link' has taken a massive step forward.

Highways England has today announced it will proceed with option 30 to upgrade the key route linking the M5 with the M4.

Stroud News and Journal:

(Option 30)

It will see a new 3.4-mile dual carriageway section on the A417, costing £485 million.

The new dual carriageway will be complemented by an extra climbing lane at Crickley Hill for slow moving traffic.

As part of the scheme, the Air Balloon roundabout and Cowley roundabout will be removed.

A new section of road built through Shab Hill 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.

Announcing the preferred route, 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.”

Following extensive investigation of possible route options, Highways England presented two possibilities to the public in 2018.

Nearly 2,000 people took part in the consultation, with 800 individuals attending events.

Around three quarters supported the option, which, with further refinement based on comments made, forms the basis of the route announced.

The option will see work to restore and improve the landscape and create improved connections including a green bridge.

Walkers will also benefit as 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.

Delivery of the project will be subject to confirmation of funding within the second road investment dtrategy, which will cover the period between 2020 and 2025.

Gloucestershire County Council Lib Dem leader Cllr Paul Hodgkinson said: “I am delighted that Highways England has announced its intention to pursue Option 30 – which we believe to be the most realistic and deliverable option.

“I am, however, disappointed that it has taken over a year for this announcement to be made, and that we have another round of further prevarication.

“Local residents are overwhelmingly in favour of getting this dangerous bottleneck sorted, and it’s time for the Government to stop sitting on its hands and reach for its wallet.”

Cotswold District Council leader Cllr Tony Berry added: “This is wonderful news for the Cotswolds – and, indeed, the entire south-west region.

"The council has expressed its full support for the preferred upgrade scheme because we believe it will improve road safety, reduce pollution levels, and will also bring great benefits to the local economy.

"We now look forward to seeing the project moving forward as quickly as possible so that everyone using this stretch of the A147 can enjoy a safer, speedier and more comfortable journey.”