Changes to improve traffic flow at A417 Air Balloon roundabout
PROPOSALS have been tabled to remodel the road layout at the Air Balloon roundabout, near Cheltenham, in a bid to ease congestion.
The Highways Agency has unveiled plans to introduce a no right turn for vehicles as they come down the hill, approaching from the Cirencester direction.
It is aimed at easing the traffic flow through the roundabout – which is a renowned traffic bottleneck and crash black spot – as well as improving the poor air quality.
However, it would mean motorists travelling towards Cheltenham would have to go all the way down the hill before turning off at the A46 at Shurdington Road.
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Members of Cotswold District Council's cabinet will meet today to decide whether to back the proposals, which could be trialled next year.
Duncan McGaw, chairman of Coberley parish council, and road safety campaigner, said the proposals would solve one problem while creating others.
He said: "We all know there is a problem with air pollution at the Air Balloon roundabout – the cottages next to it in particular suffer from poor air quality.
"But these proposals raise as many questions as answers.
"If you have got traffic flowing uninterrupted onto the roundabout from the A417 then it will cause more queues along the A436.
"You will also get more motorists trying to get through villages such as Elkstone to get to Cheltenham.
"However, there would be a reduction in the number of vehicles travelling down Leckhampton Hill, which would be a positive thing.
"I think we need to find out more about these proposals.
"I would hope they would go out to public consultation before any changes are made."
For years residents have been calling for improvements to the junction, which is part of the "missing link" – a single stretch of carriageway on the A417/A419 route which links the M4 at Swindon to the M5 near Cheltenham.
Cotswold MP Mr Clifton Brown has described the stretch as "one of the worst pinch-points on the national road network". Around 30,000 vehicles travel through it each day, despite limited capacity.
Proposed changes include introducing reflective bollards and chevron signs to prevent motorists going across the roundabout from Cirencester towards Cheltenham.
Highways chiefs said it would improve the air quality at the site – which is the subject of a pollution order due to the amount of nitrogen dioxide released by exhaust fumes.
A spokesman said: "This scheme requires that a trial first be carried out to properly assess the potential impact a right turn restriction might have on traffic flows."
Cabinet members will discuss the plans at 4pm.