Fixing Gloucestershire's A417 'missing link' road with new dual carriageway would cost £255million
SOLVING the problem of Gloucestershire's 'missing link' road will cost more than a quarter of a billion pounds, it has been revealed.
The A417 has long been the bane of the county's motorists with more than 30,000 vehicles every day using a road which was only designed to carry 18,000.
It is widely regarded as one of the busiest and most dangerous routes in the South West.
The answer, say the county's leaders, is to build a new dual carriageway mirroring the route but bypassing the notorious Air Balloon roundabout at a cost of £255 million.
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It is hoped that such a road would effectively join the M4 at Swindon and the M5 at Gloucester, making the county a more desirable place for businesses.
The plans comes after Highways Agency chiefs scrapped their plans for the Air Balloon which would have seen cars travelling from Cirencester banned from turning right in a bid to ease congestion.
Gloucestershire County Council and the county's Local Enterprise Partnership have reignited the call for a new dual carriageway, but have admitted it could be a long time before such a project could happen because of the cost.
In the meantime, they have put forward two short term fixes.
The first would see a climbing lane created at Nettleton Bottom to allow heavy goods vehicles to be passed by faster vehicles in a bid to combat queuing.
The second would see traffic going towards Cirencester banned from turning right at the A417 Birdlip junction.
Catherine Stevens has been the landlady at The Golden Heart Inn on the A417 for 22 years and said the plans would place the pub in a "Catch 22" situation.
"In the long run, yes, this is a good idea because we never understood why they left it as single track outside us anyway," she said.
"This would be better for the road, but it would seriously damage our business. We don't want to lose the traffic that goes past.
"Nobody has ever understood the Birdlip junction and it has been disastrous since they did it but stopping people from turning right there would be ridiculous." Gloucestershire County Council's lead commissioner for strategic infrastructure, Simon Excell, said the new dual carriageway would be "expensive" and "complex" and said they would work with the Highways Agency to work the two easier proposals.
"Hopefully, they will install them and pay for them, with our support," he added.