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Fixing Gloucestershire's A417 'missing link' road with new dual carriageway would cost £255million

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 22, 2013

By JACK MAIDMENT

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE:   Nettleton Bottom on the A417

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: Nettleton Bottom on the A417

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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.

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.

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8 comments

  • lordigaga  |  February 22 2013, 8:01PM

    *** don't they just get on with it

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  • Walker100  |  February 22 2013, 4:27PM

    A little bit paving between the Quays and Southgate Street cost £8,000,000 so £255m seems small beer in comparison for what we'd get. It seems to me that when ever it is public money being spent the contractors think of a figure,treble it, multiply it by 5 and then offer a 10% discount!!

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  • L804XDG  |  February 22 2013, 1:10PM

    it was probably not made dual carriageway most likely because a posh tory lived nearby!

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  • zinboya  |  February 22 2013, 12:01PM

    £255million?, this sounds to me a lot of money for a short stretch of road, 90% of the A417 is dual carriagway, from the M4 to near Birdlip and there is only the Air balloon in the way, but why not build a road to the rear of the pub, then traffic for Gloucester turn behind the pub, Cheltenham pass in front of the pub.To Lecorche do you know how much it costs to run a truck, did not think so, suggest you look up on line and find out.The mileage on the M4/M5 must be more than double the mileage going from Swindon to Gloucester on the A417.

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  • NibNobs  |  February 22 2013, 11:31AM

    Or simply compulsory purchase the Air Balloon pub site, re-locate the original lovely old stone building somewhere safer in Birdlip village or in Brockworth and build a much larger roundabout or intersection allowing two lanes to turn left down the hill to meet up with the already two lane Brockworth by-pass and improve the right turn towards the A435. OK, not a cheap 'n cheerful 'no turn right' solution but probably not even 10% of the proposed £255m.

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  • Lecorche  |  February 22 2013, 11:24AM

    Simple answer : Make all trucks above 7 Tons use the Motorways between Swindon and Gloucester.Exceptions for Emergency Services.

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  • supernova1  |  February 22 2013, 10:32AM

    Now they really are 'clutching at straws'; '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.' Can someone please tell me how this would impact AT ALL on the problems on the roundabout, or even the other single carriageway? At Nettleton Bottom, because it's officially an accident black spot, but there are no signs or cameras to tell you that, just a 40mph limit, I've ALWAYS got vehicles, cars and HGV's, right up my @r$£ when I slow down and stick to the limit! Heaven forbid if I have to stop as there is a vehicle waiting to enter the Golden Heart. Time to bite the bullet, stop prevaricating, and commit to it. Would make sense to have a completely separate road from the roundabout at the end of the dual carriageway at NB, looping round to a giant roundabout at the Air Balloon. While I feel for the business of both the pubs, they will surely benefit from the fact that people will be MORE prepared to eat and drink there if they know they can negotiate the carpark without taking their lives in their hands.

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  • Matt1006  |  February 22 2013, 9:00AM

    £255 million? Wow, that's some figure. And if that's what they think it will cost today, it would end up costing a lot more than that by the time it actually happened. Which at those sort of figures it won't. Back to the HA to come up with some sensible, realistic ideas. And with that figure of £255m now being bounded around, they've got a high bar to come in under, but without coming up with half-hearted sticking-plaster ideas, such as the now-dropped Air Balloon tweaks. Upgrading J10 on the M5 would be small beer, in comparison...

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