MEP Graham Watson visits traffic blackspot on A417 at Air Balloon Roundabout with Cllr Paul Hodgkinson
INTERNATIONAL action has been taken to try to tackle congestion at one of the Cotswold’s worst traffic blackspots.
Liberal Democrat Leader for Cotswold District Council and Gloucestershire County Councillor for Bourton and Northleach Paul Hodgkinson invited fellow Lib Dem, Member of European Parliament for Gloucestershire Graham Watson, to witness the congested and slow traffic at the Air Balloon Roundabout on the A417.
They visited the section of road last Friday lunchtime.
“I refer to this road as the road from hell,” said Cllr Hodgkinson.
“It’s not even rush hour right now and it’s mad. Traffic problems are just getting worse.”
The single-carriageway stretch of road between Cowley and Brockworth up to the Air Balloon roundabout, dubbed the missing link, has been an ongoing issue for 20 years.
Campaigners say the road should never have been built as a single carriageway and urge the Highways Agency to take action. Drivers coming from the southbound M5 towards London are connected via the A417 meaning the road carries thousands more vehicles than it was originally intended to handle.
“I travel through here a lot and I am aware of the traffic and the speeds. Something needs to be done,” said MEP Graham Watson. “This is not something affecting just Gloucestershire, this is affecting all of England as traffic passing through goes on to other counties.”
Last year GCC and the Highways Agency suggested a solution to ban right turns at the Air Balloon roundabout for traffic approaching from the Cirencester direction but the plan was abandoned following a furious public backlash as people worried that drivers would use the nearby villages as short cuts.
A solution that has some local support is to build a tunnel bypassing the roundabout. However, the cost of such a project is likely to be hundreds of millions of pounds.
“I think we have to be realistic as the bigger roads you build, the more it encourages traffic growth,” continued Mr Watson.
“We need to get more people using the trains or other public transport.”
Resident of the Air Balloon roundabout, Myra Sefton, has been struggling to sell her house for years. One neighbour recently sold her house saying she had been forced to take a lower price than it was worth because of health problems caused by the excessive pollution.
She said the situation for local residents was horrible as she is not able to open her windows, sit in the garden or even get out of the drive easily.
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