THE solution for the A417 'missing link' has taken a massive step forward after the Highways Agency agreed that the road was one that needed an urgent solution.
Support to solve The Missing Link has grown after the scheme was added to a list of roads in the south west that are challenged because of capacity, safety and environmental issues.
The Highways Agency has recognised local concerns about the route following stakeholder events in the region, and highlighted the issue in its route strategy report.
The report follows a campaign by Gloucestershire County Council to support the A417 Loop - a £255 million scheme to improve the road.
It means the 5km stretch of the A417 - known locally as the Missing Link - is one step closer to finding funding when the Government allocates cash in spring 2015.
The road is used by more than 34,000 vehicles a day and has one of the worst average vehicle delays of all routes in the region. There have been more than 340 casualties on the road in the past 15 years, with five deaths in the last five months alone.
More than 4,600 local people and businesses have now pledged their support to the Loop, which would replace the Highways Agency-maintained single-lane route from Cowley to Brockworth with a dual carriageway, among other improvements.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “I’m delighted that the Highways Agency has recognised just how important it is that a solution is found to the problem of the Missing Link.
“We know from the overwhelming support local people and businesses have given to the Loop that this is a major issue, not just in the county but in the entire region.
“However, there is still a long way to go to get Government support for the scheme and I would urge anyone who has ever used the road to make their voice heard by pledging online.”
The Highways Agency says the report at has identified a number of key challenges and opportunities with the road, concerning capacity, safety and the environment.
It also says that recent fatal collisions on the stretch of A417 weren’t included in the report because validated data was not available at the time, however there could be value in reassessing more recent incident data to understand the situation.
The county council has already offered to help fund the Loop to the tune of £500,000, demonstrating its commitment to finding a long-term solution.
Cllr Lesley Williams, Leader of the Labour Group at the county council, said: “It is positive news that the Highways Agency has recognised that the missing link is a key challenge. The A417 Loop campaign has received widespread support from local people and businesses, all of whom want safety on the A417 to improve. I hope the Government will now listen carefully to Gloucestershire residents and the Highways Agency and provide the funding for the scheme.”
Cllr Colin Hay, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at the county council said, “It’s great news that the Highways Agency is recognising this piece of work as important. They’ve clearly heard the voices of local people, not just for road safety, but for helping businesses as well. However, we’re not there yet and it’s important that everyone gets behind our bid by pledging support.”
Cllr Alan Preest, Leader of UKIP Group at the county council said, “We see this as an improvement for our roads in Gloucestershire and we’re one hundred per cent behind the scheme.”
Local business owners and commuters are encouraged to show their support for the A417 Loop by signing up and pledging their backing at www.a417missinglink.co.uk or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org