National Highways has been given the go-ahead for a major road upgrade to the A417 between Gloucester and Swindon – which it says will help boost the regional economy and transform journeys for millions of people.
Transport Minister Huw Merriman has given the long-awaited decision for this landscape-led highways scheme that will deliver a safe and resilient free-flowing road while conserving and enhancing the special character of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The scheme is designed to improve the connection between two dual carriageway sections of the A417 at Brockworth and Cowley, and links between the M4 and M5.
On an average day, the road carries approximately 40,000 vehicles and congestion can be frequent and unpredictable, so some motorists divert onto local roads to avoid tailbacks. This causes difficulties for neighbouring communities and local roads were not built to accommodate so much traffic.
National Highways says that upgrading this section of the A417 to dual carriageway, in a way that is sensitive to the surrounding Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will help unlock Gloucestershire’s potential for growth, support regional plans for more homes and jobs and improve life in local communities.
National Highways’ Chief Executive Nick Harris said: “We’re delighted with the Minister’s decision. This means we can get going with this major upgrade, which is vital for local communities and the regional South West economy.
“We would like to thank everyone who has worked with us to help shape this vital scheme and provided valuable feedback. We will continue to work closely with local communities as we move towards the start of construction in 2023, making sure everyone is kept informed and disruption is kept to a minimum.
“This is a significant investment of £460m in our road network that will improve road safety, reduce traffic congestion and improve connectivity for road users and local communities.
“We are designing the scheme to fit sympathetically within the landscape, providing the opportunity to link habitats and support environmental sustainability, while unlocking economic growth in Gloucestershire and beyond.”
The A417/A419 provides an important route between Gloucester and Swindon that helps connect the Midlands/North to the South of England. It’s an alternative to the M5/M4 route via Bristol.
The Missing Link itself is a three-mile stretch of single-lane carriageway on the A417 between the Brockworth bypass and Cowley roundabout in Gloucestershire.
It causes many problems for road users and those who live or work in the area. Congestion can be frequent and unpredictable, so some motorists divert onto local roads to avoid tailbacks.
This causes difficulties for neighbouring communities and local roads were not built to accommodate so much traffic. Poor visibility and other factors also mean that accidents, many of which are serious, occur frequently along this section of road.
The granting of the DCO means preparatory work on the project can begin early next year with construction due to begin later in 2023.
(Picture – National Highways)