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Changes to improve traffic flow at A417 Air Balloon roundabout

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

The Air Balloon roundabout

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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.

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.

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  • rvstivs  |  February 09 2013, 1:29PM

    Once again the highways agency have come up with a smokescreen to divert attention away from the fact that they have failed to do their job and sort out the problem of the A417. The only bit of single carriageway between Scotland and the channel ports. It should be obvious to anyone watching the traffic that the hold up on the A417 is caused by traffic from Seven Springs direction on the A436 turning right to go down Crickely hill. This is what causes the tailback on the A417 from Birdlip. Stopping this would allow a free flow of traffic onto the A417. However this would force the A436 traffic to go down Birdlip hill or to the Nettlton bottom roundabout and join in the queue to come back. This would be just as ridiculous as the present proposals to make the A417 traffic go to Brockworth roundabout and then back up Crickely hill to continue along the A436. The traffic turning right from the A417 onto the A436 is a small proportion. Widening the A417 back towards Birdlip for half a mile or more and putting another lane marked for right turn would take this traffic out of the equation. Doing this would help but but would still not solve the real problem.

  • genesis  |  January 14 2013, 6:55PM

    send an e mail too( nigel.riglar@gloucestershire.gov.uk ) voicing your concerns as he proposed thas glos cc spends £ 45 k of our money on this ridiculous scheme .

  • EllJay1  |  January 14 2013, 4:32PM

    It will be a bit of a b*****r for anyone who is coming from the Cirencester direction and wants to visit Crickley Hill Country Park or the Star Centre! I go out that way several times a year, so on the way back will probably turn left at the Air Balloon then come back up again from the A46 junction so that I can get a direct way home rather than driving through rather a lot of Cheltenham before getting home.

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  • Freeborn_John  |  January 14 2013, 3:31PM

    write to paul.hodgkinson1@40virgin.net as he's the councillor who thought this was a good idea in the first place!

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  • J3ss_Glos  |  January 14 2013, 1:10PM

    It simply begs belief! I am astonished that the 'clean air' of one pub and three cottages can be taken into higher consideration than that of whole villages along the 'old' Cirencester to Cheltenham road, the village of Birdlip where commuters will no doubt cut through and the thousands of residents from Shurdington all the way into Cheltenham Town Centre. Lets face it, the Shurdington Road in to Cheltenham isn't exactly a traffic-trouble-free route, I don't think I've ever driven along that road without experiencing some kind of traffic - Monday to Sunday, anytime of day or night!! Seriously in what way do Gloucestershire Highways think that increasing Commuter's journey distance, therefore environmental pollution; increasing traffic through small surrounding villages which simply do not have the road set-up and facility to cater for it, and simply moving high traffic flow to an already congested alternative hotspot - is ever going to be a 'better' solution!

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  • genesis  |  December 16 2012, 12:25PM

    just had too check the date & its not april the 1st this this plan needs too be forgotten as quickly as the april fools jokes ,feel sorry for the people living in surrounding villages ,who are the people who have come up with this idea ? .not one word of support so far.

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  • Janiegel  |  December 08 2012, 6:05PM

    by Janiegel Friday, December 07 2012, 12:29PM . "I can only think that the people coming up with this ludicrous suggestion have never driven along the A46 in rush hour. The traffic is already backed on to the Brockworth bypass waiting to get on to the A46, and then they crawl for many miles through Shurdington to get to Cheltenham. There are many cyclist also using this route at this busy time, and one was killed this week in Shurdington. The road is barely wide enough for bikes and cars, so a road improvement plan would need to be considered. Please don't underestimate the impact this extra volume of traffic would have on the drivers that use this route and the people who live along it.Stopping the traffic from using the Leckhampton hill route in to Cheltenham only transfers the chaos somewhere else... so think again, the A46 is already full to capacity."

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  • micegirl  |  December 06 2012, 7:54PM

    Is this even a legal step, by blocking a connection between 2 'A' roads at the junction like this? Not sure what this will do for the Air Balloon pub. Presumably you wouldn't be able to drive down to the roundabout from the pub then go back up the hill towards Cirencester. You already can't turn right out of the pub up the hill(fair enough), so I am sure they'll be unhappy.

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  • roger1106  |  December 06 2012, 7:36PM

    If the proposed plans to build 1,300 houses, a primary school and a GP surgery in the fields between Leckhampton and the Shurdington Road gets the go ahead the the consortium has already stated it expects the development to result in an additional 800 cars on the roads in and around Leckhampton during rush hour. Add to this the rerouted traffic from the Air Balloon coming down the A46 Shurdington Road and there will be gridlock.

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  • Ipaytax  |  December 06 2012, 7:18PM

    I regularly travel from Birdlip, right at the Air Balloon roundabout then left to Leckhampton. I have never had to queue for more than a couple of cars turning right as nearly all the traffic is heading down the hill. The tailbacks are caused by the volume of traffic already traveling down the single lane on Crickley Hill so if all traffic is sent this way the tailbacks will increase. Traffic caught out by this madness will have to leave at the A46 roundabout to rejoin. How long before queues reach the end of the slip road and onto the carriageway (remember M5 Jct 12?). When the bypass was first built most sane people said the dual carriageway should have continued from Cowley to the bottom of Crickley Hill. We are now facing the consequences of bad decisions taken then.

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